Director: John Carpenter | 89 minutes | science fiction, horror | Actors: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Paré, Meredith Salenger, Mark Hamill, Pippa Pearthree, Peter Jason, Constance Forslund, Karen Kahn, Thomas Dekker, Lindsey Haun, Cody Dorkin, Trishalee Hardy, Jessye Quarry, Adam Robbins, Chelsea DeRidder Simms, Renee Rene Simms, Danielle Keaton, Hillary Harvey, Bradley Wilhelm, Jennifer Wilhelm, George Buck Flower, Squire Fridell, Darryl Jones, Ed Corbett, Ross Martineau, Skip Richardson, Tony Haney, Sharon Iwai, Robert Lewis Bush
This “Village of the Damned” from 1995 is a remake of the British film of the same name from 1960. The original was characterized by a restrained approach, in this remake it was chosen to portray things more explicitly. In addition to the similarities that this film has with the original, the differences are therefore all the more striking. In a disadvantageous sense, but also apart from that, the question is whether the chosen approach of this remake is particularly beneficial to the tension and horror that is evoked in “Village of the Damned”.
The first harbingers of the approaching disaster immediately present themselves in the form of the cloud of mist floating past various houses and the dreamy whisper that can be heard. And the children born after the blackout soon turn out to have strange physical and mental characteristics. It is quickly clear to the viewer that the children are not completely human. Unfortunately, it was decided to encourage the deviant nature of the children very strongly. Their unnatural course, their luminous and alternately green, red, white eyes with which they use their mental abilities and from which even flashes of light can shoot, their too great hostility to the other villagers from the beginning and many other signals …
Director Carpenter does not seem to get enough of using verbal and non-verbal signals to point out to the viewer over and over again that something strange is going on with the children. But we do realize quickly enough that these children are only partly human in nature and as a result we can really reason that they are of partly alien descent. The repetitive excess of partly exaggerated clues becomes boring after a while, until finally the talk of the children’s leader about ‘… survival… we shall dominate you… we shall form new colonies…. ” no longer has any added value and the children no longer so much as threatening, but above all if only appear irritating. In addition, strangely and unbelievably enough, one of the children, despite the statement made by the child’s leader that ’emotion is irrelevant, it is not our nature’, is nevertheless capable of pity and Carpenter must then even have the alien appearance of one of the stillborn children. This mainly backfires and undermines the credibility of the whole thing.
An explanation for the differences between the alien appearance of the stillborn alien child with the human-like appearance of the other alien children is not given and also raises the question why an alien life form would choose the earth as a colony for their progeny. A clearly different approach than that of the original from 1960, and comparisons between the two films are therefore obvious. Does Carpenter manage to achieve a threatening atmosphere in his version, just like in the original? Yes, to a certain extent, but compared to the original, everything in this remake is emphasized too much, too much and too frequently. And unfortunately this is one of the reasons that the subtle oppressive threat that is so palpable in the 1960 film, and which is brought about precisely by its restrained approach, is unfortunately not achieved in this remake.
Carpenter has also chosen in “Village of the Damned” to explicitly depict the scenes with which the children make their victims. Suicides, burnt victims, exploding cars, a crashing helicopter and even massacres by shootings between police officers and soldiers. In this respect, these images fit the more explicit character of this film, but is it really necessary to present this to the viewer? Not really no. The fans of graphic scenes will probably appreciate a few things, but the horror is not significantly increased in this film. The various violent images repeatedly come across as too forced and also superfluous, whereby it is also regrettable that these scenes are also at the expense of the psychological horror in the world. the original, the more present.
All in all, “Village of the Damned” is especially suitable for those who have no problem with an abundance of clues, for those who love the more explicit material, and for those who have not seen the original. However, the viewers who do know the original and those who prefer horror films in which a few things are also left to the imagination of the viewer will conclude that ‘Village of the Damned’ is a somewhat nice remake in some respects, but not much more than that either.