In the small town of Covington, Pennsylvania, population of a few dozen people, life is simple, modern technology non-existent, and language archaic. They are very isolated and raised to believe there are creatures in the woods. The townspeople have an agreement with the creatures that says that they will not go into the woods and the creatures will not go into their town. The cries of the creatures can be heard as reminders that they exist. One of the people needs medical attention, so one person goes into the woods to get help but break the agreement. The creatures enter town at night to warn them to not do it again. But not everything is as it first appears.
The plot is not complicated, not much to think about except to wonder what the creatures really are. There a few twists which might stump viewers but I figured it out before the halfway point. Overall, not a bad plot but not totally original either.
The atmosphere is one of Puritan-like or Amish society. It is a simple place of no modern technology, respecting everyone, and being polite. The crime rate is non-existent. All is well in this isolated little world -- that is until one of their people enters the woods. Then the whole feel of the movie changes to one of panic and terror.
William Hurt plays Edward Walker, the leader of the town and father of the prominent family of the town. He's father to several children, including Tabitha amp; Kitty. His father founded the village. William Hurt, a veteran actor, does a great job as usual.
Joaquin Phoenix plays young (late 20s) Lucius Hunt. He's young but intelligent and questions why they can not enter the woods, if even to seek help in surrounding towns. He's part of a love circle -- Kitty Walker loves him, he loves Ivy, Ivy loves him, and his best friend Noah Percy loves Ivy. Joaquin Phoenix is becoming a great actor and never fails to give a spectacular performance.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Ivy Walker, the older sister of Kitty, who loves and plans on marrying Lucius. She's blind and it adds to her character in an important way. Great job.
Judy Greer plays Kitty Walker, the younger sister of Ivy, who loves Lucius but he declines.
Adrien Brody plays Noah Percy, the best friend of Lucius and he loves Ivy but she does not love him.
Sigourney Weaver plays Alice Hunt, mother of Lucius. She tells him that his father was killed in the woods. Other women tell her that Edward Walker is interested in her but she does not believe it. Sigourney is great as always but here her character does not play a big role. I wish her role were bigger.
M. Night Shyamalan plays a... well I'll let you figure it all!:)
And, of course, it is directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan.
The is superb, very clear and it captures this isolated, old-style beautifully. The woods are creepy. Plenty of night scenes with torches provide a nice touch to the horror aspects.
The FX are great but mostly it's all the setting. There are not many SFX in other regards. The main SFX are the creatures but we do not see them in great details. This movie does not revolve around FX, more so on acting, character interaction and the mystery of the creatures.
While this has some aspects of horror, I do not consider it horror. It is more a mysterious thriller and drama. It is not totally original and it utilizes some of Shyamalan's signature plot devices. While his movies are good and The Sixth Sense will be a classic, he needs to try a variety of different devices, as it is getting a bit predictable now. The acting is superb and professional, as is the set and FX, with an emphasis on story and character interaction. Definitely worth a view for fans of any genre.