Here's one I've been defending from the beginning.
Before M. Night Shyamalan suffered his first flop (Lady In The Water) and made what most consider to be his worst film to date (The Happening), he divided audiences with The Village. Back in the day, Mr Shyamalan was all about the twists and this one either made people mad or... didn't.
Personally, I liked The Village and still do.
A period piece, the film bears Shyamalan's trademark slow-burning pace and dark undertones but demands that you pay attention and immerse yourself in that strange little world. The village in question is overseen by a group of elders, which include William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver, who may or may not be hiding some sort of secret. Joaquin Phoenix and Bryce Dallas Howard play two of the young people living in the village with Adrian Brody standing out like a sore thumb as a mentally challenged buddy of theirs. Look out for a young Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Pitt in there too. Everyone lives a simple, peaceful life except... the woods are off-limits due to the fact that carnivorous hooded monsters live there.
Oh, also, they're attracted by the colour red (the "bad" colour).
Stay with me...
This genre mash-up, a period piece crossed with horror/fantasy with a naive romance at the heart of it all, is pretty innovative and, like with Lady In The Water, you end up with a movie that, love it or hate it, is truly unique and very creative in its approach. The focus is very much placed on the characters rather than the more surreal stuff so when Bryce Dallas Howard's character (who is blind, by the way) is sent out into the woods on a questionable mission, you do feel for her and what she's going through. No matter how random that movie gets with talks of "magic rocks" and "Those We Don't Speak Of", it's the genuinely sweet (or, rather, bittersweet) romance that holds it all together and gets you involved in what's going on. As with all of Shyamalan's movies, The Village has a lot of heart. That said, this might also be, next to The Happening, his most mean-spirited film. This is one of those odd little movies that leaves you feeling more depressed than hopeful but stays with you and continues to develop at the back of your mind. It's a sneaky one.
No wonder half of its audience weren't into it!
Yes the film has the occasional silly moment and if you're unwilling to buy the whole monster stuff from the beginning, come the twist ending, you won't give a damn. Otherwise, The Village is certainly one of M. Night Shyamalan's best and, as a movie, it's a random oddity but a memorable one.
Strange, suspenseful, twisted, atmospheric: like it or not, The Village is a daring and unique piece of WTF.