The tag lines to The Village condition viewers to the suspenseful setting and situations encountered in the 108 minute film by M. Night Shyamalan. "Run, the truce is ending" suggests a cyclical pattern of riots and vengeance that reduce the conflict to that of a blood vendetta between two groups of individuals. While these two groups transpire in the villagers (people and elders) and the creatures of the woods (unnamed). According to the tagline, the agreement that pacifies the woodland beasts has been violated, so death will ensue. But, is that what we witness in the film? Does the conflict truly plague the two parties or simply wrestle within the hearts and minds of the elders themselves? Shyamalan suggests the latter, when he frames each couple or Elder examining their own Pandora's box of the past behind locked doors and curtained windows. The absence of color also preys on viewer's subconscious, for red is forbidden yet alluring toNoah, as "it (the red color) attracts them." Fear permeates the film, stemming from other outlets outside colors and rules and arises from within the hearts of their own. Perhaps, red symbolizes the passion, the heartache, the marrow of emotion shed or felt when one loves and loses. The entire setting qualifies this claim in that the people are arrayed in drab colors, the houses bear identical, functional contents, and even the landscape appears muted and paled by the camera. Yet, if man thinks he can remove the humanity from himself and suppress his feelings of life, he is sorely mistaken.
Fear gains strength and momentum when left to its own devices. Mr. Shyamalan taps into a pattern explored in other works as well. In J.K. Rawling's Harry Potter series, the inhabitants of the wizarding world do not call their arch enemy by name. In fact, his name invokes terrors lingering far beneath the surface of man' s courage and resonating in those hidden valleys of doubts and shadows. When Harry begins to believe in his calling, his purpose, and his quest, he calls the Dark lord by name and thus alleviates his fears of him. If more people in the wizarding world would simply follow Harry's model, then maybe Voldemort would not have been able to gather forces and gain enough power for resurrection. Not speaking a menacing name does not act as protection against that very individual.
In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, he too allows the Black Riders to go unmasked and camouflaged behind their nick names. Referred to as The Nine, the fell riders, and such, the true identity of the Ringwraiths remain hidden from Frodo and company until they encounter Aragorn in Bree. Many roads must they travel before they reach The Prancing Pony inn. Even the elf, Gildor, refuses to tell Frodo much about what pursues him through the forest, although he does give them shape and form. He advises Frodo to "Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly" (Tolkien 83). When the Hobbits encounter Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest, he too sheds little light on the riders and claims, "Some things are ill to hear when the world is in shadow" (124). As long as their identity remains ambiguous, the Hobbits' fear of them stands firm.
In The Village, " Those we do not speak of" bear the same fearful connotation. At the hint of their presence, the villagers endure unspoken terror for their neighbors in Covington Woods. Yet, this refusal to tag these menacing beings keeps villagers from facing their fears. The Elders then feast on that fear and perpetuate the cycle of terror that keeps the villagers in their houses and content with the tight borders fencing them in their town. This unspoken fear also deflates any youthful machismo- deterring even coming of age males from venturing beyond the borders just to see what is on the other side.
The problem with the "those we do not speak of" remains trapped inside the Elders who have created these fearmongers. While their presence is feared and their names are protected, their secret is safe. The men and women who form this ruling body do not have to elaborate on any part of the myth they perpetuate, for the villagers are terrified to mention the red hooded villains. By preying on the town's fears, the elders then manipulate the people according to their own personal agenda, which is Shyamalan's point.
Power comes from tagging fear. When man opens up about what plagues him, he can overcome. A powerful example of this very idea comes from the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption. As Red ( Morgan Freeman) leaves the prison on parole, he faces a world that has evolved since he last saw it, for he grew up in the prison. The world at large looks menacing and sinister as the released prisoner tries to make his way outside the order and totalitarian rigidity of the prison cell lifestyle. When he is about to give into his fears, his anagnorsis comes from looking at a name scrawled in the ceiling of his apartment. He too, decides to pursue life, to get busy living, and to overcome his own demons and fears. He writes his name in the ceiling and discovers the "freedom that comes from writing your name."