Village of the Damned (1995)



Movie Title: Village of the Damned

Year Released: 1995

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 38m

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: David Himmelstein

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Paré, Meredith Salenger, Mark Hamill, Pippa Pearthree, Peter Jason, Thomas Dekker, George 'Buck' Flower, Karen Kahn, Lindsey Haun, Constance Forslund, Cody Dorkin, Trishalee Hardy, Jessye Quarry, Adam Robbins, Chelsea DeRidder Simms, Renee Rene Simms, Danielle Keaton,

Review: In the secluded village of Midwich, a mysterious unseen force causes its entire population to spontaneously blackout, and when they come to, ten women discover that they are pregnant. Soon the children are born and the real terror begins. Not only do they look peculiar with their startling glowing eyes, but they have deadly mind manipulation powers. Can Superman, Luke Skywalker, and the other terrified townspeople stop these lethal little ones before their quiet coastal town becomes the Village of the Damned? No kidding!

Director John Carpenter is helming this remake of the 1960 Sci-Fi/Horror classic of the same name. The premise is fairly similar, although it does take an interesting approach with focusing on the majority of the females in Midwich. Unfortunately, this version seems a bit unfocused and lacks the punch of Carpenter's past outings like Christine, The Thing, and Prince of Darkness.

There's definitely a creepy vibe running throughout the movie, but as it goes along there isn't much tension or terror. The kids are creepy, as they should be, but they never seem threatening even when they are threatening or carrying out there collective murderous behavior. I think that may be the biggest flaw in the film. Although, Lindsey Haun's Mara has an instantly hate-able twinkle in her alien eye as she and her spooky siblings begin to take over the town.

The cast is fine for the most part, but it seems like their are a few too many characters and we never spend enough time with each of them to build-up any emotional resonance with their personal plight. After my most recent watch I thought that this would make for a good mini-series or limited series on cable or some streaming service. It would help to flush out many of the characters and their plotlines for a more overall satisfactory story. Christopher Reeve seems a bit wooden as the town's doctor. Linda Kozlowski seems to have the best storyline of all the character, but she kind of gets lost in a mix until the climax. Meredith Salenger has an interesting angle to play, but is short changed. Mark Hamill is fun as a timid priest. Carpenter regular Peter Jason is great, but not on the screen enough. Young Thomas Dekker as David is great as he tries to embrace his human side. And Kirstie Alley seems like she in a different movie at times and doesn't really gel with the overall story.

There's plenty of mayhem and murder, but not enough mystery for me. The stages of the film are as such: What happened to everyone?, Who or what are these kids? Why do people keep dying under strange circumstances? And, ultimately, oh, it was those odd-ball ankle-biters! And the townspeople keep dying mysteriously, and that part of the movie gets a bit repetitive and you begin to play the "Who's gonna tick off the children and bite it in some eerily explicit way?"

For more or less, it is an enjoyable watch, but certainly not top-tier Carpenter fare. So if you're a fan of creepy kids with glowing eyes and bizarre mental murder powers then make sure to visit the Village of the Damned, but... Beware the Children!

Stars (out of 4):
       

Fun Fact: John Carpenter's regular actor Peter Jason was in charge of helping the child actors get into character and behave as a unit.



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