Kids are creepy period, they don’t need no stinking glowing eyes to be creepy!
Screenplay By: Ronald Kinnoch, Wolf Rilla, & Stirling Silliphant
Directed By: Wolf Rilla
Creepiness can take a move very far, but without a sense of urgency creepiness can lose its edge. Village Of The Damned tries to ride the line between being a creepy horror movie and being an allegorical tale about the coming of the atomic age. The creepiness is almost always present, and the allegorical aspects are always, at the least, lurking in the background. But, what is missing at every turn in Village Of The Damned is a sense of urgency. I never felt the stakes at play in the film and thus I never felt like what was happening mattered beyond images on a screen.
I lay most of the blame for the lack of urgency in Village Of The Damned at the feet of the actors. In every scene of Village Of The Damned the actors come across as people reading from a script to themselves in the bathroom. Even in the moments that should be dire and full of tenseness I found the flaw of line reading to be present. If the actors aren’t willing to imbue their characters with a need or desire to understand the largeness of the danger the children represent then why should I find the children to be a threat?
I’m sure that some people found the restrained nature of the film a boon to the creepiness of the affair. I can see that standpoint, but I cannot agree with that standpoint. I needed more than people treating children who were supposed to be evil incarnate as the equivalent of a hard math problem. Village Of The Damned is stripped of all emotion, it is stripped of any suspense or tenseness and that leaves it a film that feels far too ho-hum for its own good.
I did enjoy some of the visuals found in Village Of The Damned. The visuals were never jaw dropping, but I liked how the film focused so much on eyes and faces. The eyes, and by extension, the face are windows to the soul and by focusing so much on those two areas the visuals of Village Of The Damned easily conveyed how different the children were from everyone else.
I also liked the way that the film handled it’s obvious allegorical leanings. The film is about the sacrifices made by the World War II generation and how the children of that generation were very different from their forbearers and held a lot more power in their fingers. The message did get heavy handed in a few instances, such as the professor’s atomic age speech right before the end of the film. But, on the whole the atomic age connection gave the film an added element that helped to make up for the lack of urgency in the rest of the picture.
It wasn’t the all time classic that I was hoping for, but Village Of The Damned was a good picture. It is flawed in many places and suffers from the crucial failing of a lack of urgency. Still, the production values are handsome and the message of the film is handled in deft fashion. It’s not among the best horror films ever made, but Village Of The Damned is a good film that is simply lacking in the elements that were essential for it to be a great movie.