Shocking story swerves and the times at which they happen

Apparently, titles are optional in wordpress posts. Or so I’m assuming, because when I went to make this post, the words “Title (optional)” appeared in the title space. Who knew?

Anyway.

I recently watched the film The Village for the first time. I have come to understand that its main draw, the series of twists that start happening towards the end, is the primary reason for which thousands of people love it and hate it.

It is my humble opinion that it was okay, but it could have done better. And not by making any major changes to the story or the twists, but rather by altering the time at which they happen.

If you plan to see this film sometime in the foreseeable future and are not keen on spoilers, do not highlight the space between where this sentence ends and the next paragraph begins, but kindly do so if your situation is another.

Towards the end of the film, it is revealed that the mysterious monsters which have been haunting the villagers are an invention of the village elders to keep people from going away to the equally mysterious towns (we’ll call this Twist A). As the heroine, a blind girl, travels through the woods after learning this secret (but being told that the fabricated legend began because the elders had previously heard rumours of monsters in the woods) and meets another monster that looks very much real to the audience, but then turns out to be a slightly different costume than the others, worn by Adrien Brody’s insane character (Twist B). Finally, when the blind girl reaches the edge of the forest, it turns out that the “towns” are actually a modern city and the whole settler-village thing was a ploy by the elders to escape the violence and greed of modern society (Twist C).

While this brew, I believe, results in at least a memorable film, its impression could have been made stronger by changing the order of things around for a bit– for instance, Twist A (the shed’s contents) should logically come before  Twist B (the last monster), but the proximity between the two could be a bit more narrow to maximise the amount of tension a first-time viewer would feel for as long as Twist A remained a secret. The reason Twist B works is because of the secret Twist A reveals, but that does not necessarily mean there needs to be too much space between the two.

On the other hand, a source of mystery that felt underplayed in my opinion was the nature of the towns (Twist C), the other big mystery along with the monsters. Once the revelation of Twist A happens, it starts to become clear that, independently of the monsters, there is something not quite right about the towns that makes the elders rather keen on dissuading people from going there– a potentially fantastic way of playing up the tension of the mysteries in an imaginative enough person (perhaps the towns and the monsters are somehow related?) although what comes of that, while memorable, was not quite played to be as impacting as it could have been. In fact, I believe that adding this sense of mystery, especially from earlier on, could have salvaged a lot of complaints about what actually happens with Twist C coming out of nowhere just to be shocking.

So, that’s one way a bit of tweaking with the order and form in which things happen can be used to make an adequate story into a great story. Perhaps you’ve crafted something that, in retrospect, could yet be improved by making tweaks of this nature? Next time you have anything exciting in mind, look and see.

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About ikerrivercast

Iker Rivercast is a natural born loner with a knack for writing and programming. When he's not sleeping or otherwise putting off being productive, you'll likely find him trying something new with his written work. View all posts by ikerrivercast

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