Bringing nothing new to the table and completely clueless about what made the original so effective, Village of the Damned packs a narrative that definitely falls in John Carpenter’s domain yet the film as a whole is a disappointing & pointless remake that’s inferior to the 1960 version in almost all aspects.
Taking place in a coastal American town, the story of Village of the Damned is set into motion when the entire community passes out at the same time one day, and later learn that many women in their society are mysteriously pregnant. But when the children are born and grow up, they begin exhibiting strange psychic powers.
Directed by John Carpenter (The Fog & Christine), there are few obvious changes but none of them really add anything of substance to the plot, be it the American setting or contemporary timeline. The spooky element is missing and the colored frames fail to replicate the eeriness of the black n white classic.
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Add to that, things like the aerial camerawork mimicking the movement of alien entity or whispering sounds or different colour of pupils when the children utilize their powers or other stuff added to give the picture a sinister quality just doesn’t work here and only feels like a cheap trick as if the filmmakers are trying way too hard to make things work.
The original’s strength was in the simplicity of its plot & clear, concise narration of the unfolding events while retaining an aura of mystery & foreboding born out of our fear of the unknown. This remake, on the other hand, is a dull, bland & poorly executed schlock. Still, there are a couple of positives, one being larger roles for women & other being Carpenter’s splendid score.
The widescreen format & colored photography inadvertently douses the terror and the children appear more weird than creepy. Performances aren’t any good, characters aren’t compelling, and Carpenter’s direction seems unfocused too as if he himself wasn’t quite invested in the project. Even the ending is flat and fails to conclude the story on a satisfying note.
On an overall scale, Village of the Damned may have fared better on my radar if I hadn’t seen the original first but it’s still a mediocre entry in the Horror Master’s filmography. The atmosphere isn’t even remotely ominous plus many scenes that are meant to be scary come off as funny. Do yourself a favor and check out the British version instead, for that chiller is still damn effective despite being nearly 60 years old. Just pretend that this remake never happened. In a word, forgettable.