First, I need to expand one of my theories. M. Night doesn't have problems with having to use the surprise ending. He simply has a problem with endings. Unbreakable is a great example of this. I was, in fact, thinking there wouldn't be a surprise ending as the movie went on, because nothing was really set up for it. And then the movie was over within like three minutes. Signs bugs me for different reasons, but is along the same lines. Everything gets wrapped up too quickly and too unsatisfactorily, for what came before it.
But I came to talk about The Village. I enjoyed a great deal of the movie, again. The fact that our generic, stoic M. Night hero guy drops out of the movie halfway through and his paramour becomes the new heroine was a nice change of pace. And oh, the scene where we fist see the nameless monster in town? Brilliant. (Also, best Halloween costume idea this year.)
I was tipped off about the time difference earlier on because of the locks on the doors. I bet another viewing would show me more anachronisms I just didn't see before. And I knew something was up with the monsters early on. M. Night did get me the second time, with the "omg, maybe the monsters are real!" bit in the woods. Again, very well done, as was the part with the village elders.
I *liked* The Village because, while there was one big surprise bit (when she crosses the border) there were other surprise turns leading up to it (the monster reveal, the 'maybe the monster actually is real' trick, the real culprit, etc.) And that helped a little, as it just seemed more twisty and turny.
But I didn't like it because then there's the ending of "then she gets back, and presumably the medicine works and presumably everyone lives happily ever after or something." Again, abrupt. Also, the characters in this movie weren't quite as rich as his previous offerings, maybe because this was a pretty big ensemble cast (compared to his other movies.) And the blind girl could sure see enough when it was convenient for the plot. And man, Joaquim Phoenix was sort of a dick. Again, the movie is really really close to being cool. But there's just enough stuff getting in the way for me to sign off on it.
Oh, and M. Night? Don't be a dick about the cameo thing. If you gotta do it, go the Hitchcock route and get it out of the way early in the movie, so people can get on with your film.
OK, now I am off to run errands and get my car looked at. Discuss amongst yourselves until I return.