I know this is something that has mentioned before, but that’s not going to stop me from doing my own. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
When I went to the theaters to watch The Village I was excited for what I thought was going to be a mysterious horror film. About twenty minutes or so I had the shocking realization that I have seen this before, in literature form. After this realization I had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as the movie lost its possible luster and interest. Oh M Night, I tried so hard to like your movies, but they just kept being filled with disappointment.
First, a Quick Summary of The Village: [came out 2004] An isolated village in the late 1890’s is surrounded by thick forest. Within the woods lies creatures whose names are not spoken. There are watchtowers to keep an eye on the woods and rules to keep the people safe. Upon the death of a young boy, one of the young men of the village asks to go in to a neighboring town for medicine. He is denied by the elders, the other towns are deemed places of wickedness. There are secrets in the village that only the Elders seem to know. The color red is “the bad color” and if anyone enters the woods, the creatures will bring harm to the villagers. After a villager is wounded the a blind young woman begs to be allowed to go into another town for medical supplies. The Elders relent, sending her off into the dreaded woods.
The towns people are just regular people who decided that society is filled with wicked things and they wish for a simpler time. Thus they move themselves and their small children in the middle of a national wildlife reserve. The children are brought up with stories of creatures, thinking it’s the late 1890’s. The only reason the blind girl can go is because she will never discover the secret of the village. After she climbs a fence and meets a ranger on the other side who gives her a first aid kit, and she slips back into the woods thinking the same stories.
Onto the Quick Summary of Running Out of Time: (Published 1996) A young girl lives with her family in 1840 on the Indiana frontier. Life on the frontier is dangerous since families traveled long and hard to their destination. The children are forbidden to go too far from the community, including the forest where children challenge each other to reach the Forbidden Stone. When a disease begins to fall ill and die, the girls mother sends her on a dangerous mission to get medicine for the town.
So her mother reveals to her that it is really 1996. Going through a hidden hatch the girl realizes that her who existence is a genetic experiment that is at a tourist building for people to come and see “actors” in 1840. The girl goes through trials to get medicine for her people, eventually exposing what the tourist building is really about, and how the owners of it refused to give medicine because it wouldn’t be ‘authentic’.
So, now that we have gotten past the summaries, I’m going to get down to the rant. There were rumors that the author of R.O.o.T was going to sue M. Night, but as far as my research can say it never happened. I’ve read sources that say he was ‘inspired’ by her book to full on denying any inspiration. In either case, obvious similarities gleam throughout the movie.
- The main protagonists are both young women who are set apart from their peers (tomboy and being blind). They are both sent out to get medicine for their town, which is a historical preserve.
- The towns began because the adults wanted a simpler safer life for themselves and children. One was in a national animal sanctuary bought with the founders money, while the other was parents who agreed to an idea for a tourist building. They teach their children to fear the outside of the town due to dangers (‘monsters’ vs. frontier wilderness) and the adults take measures to put fear in their kids so they follow the rules. Neither town has adequate medicine when they need it, thus sending out the protagonist.
- The adults who started the historical life have keepsakes of their past lives, young people get hurt and die due to the ‘realistic’ settings these people are living.
I know this doesn’t seem like a whole lot of comparison to call “sounds like a ripoff” but if you have read the book and watched the movie you can’t help but feel there are too many similarities. Yes the R.O.o.T book the girl found near the beginning that it wasn’t the time she thought, while the other is left to be fooled with the rest of the village. Maybe it’s just me, but it just irks me that this movie was so popular when it seems so based off something I enjoyed reading as a teenager.