“The Village” is set in Covington, a small, rural community right out of the 19th century. In the woods surrounding the village are territorial monsters: “Those We Don’t Speak Of.” Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) desires to see the towns beyond his village, but after an incursion in the village follows him exploring the woods, he’s deterred from venturing further. When Lucius is stabbed in an altercation, his blind fiancée Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) must journey through the woods to get him medicine.
Infamously, “The Village” isn’t as scary or fantastical as one would expect from its premise. It’s been cited as a victim of poor marketing; the trailer plays up the terror and the hidden threat of the monsters. In reality, the movie is more of a ponderous period drama — minus, it turns out, the period. At the end of Ivy’s trek, the audience learns that Covington is actually in the middle of a nature reserve.
The village elders became disillusioned with the modern world and founded the settlement to escape it. To keep their oblivious children there, they invented the myth of the creatures in the woods. They still keep fragments of their old lives, though. A keystone of the reveal is when Ivy’s father Edward (William Hurt) looks at a modern, color photo of Covington’s founders outside the grief counseling center where they all met.
In the end, Ivy returns to the village none the wiser, thanks to her blindness. The Elders, unmoored from their beliefs, decide to keep up the illusion.