Village of the Damned is Carpenter’s second remake. This one is not quite as inventive as the Thing. Here, Carpenter sticks much closer to the source material. The film begins in an idyllic small California town where there is a community barbecue. In the midst of the festivities, the entire town falls unconscious. The government enters the scene very quickly to assess the situation. They find there is a line that can be crossed, where a person will pass out. Almost as quickly as it hit, the town wakes up.
Soon, six women discover they are pregnant. The babies are all born at the same time (but one is stillborn), and the government leaves behind researches to keep an eye on the newborns. As the years progress the five children are becoming quite peculiar and are surrounded by mysterious tragedies. The children all have silvery hair (the actors are quite annoyed that people think they wore wigs. They did not) and are immensely smart. They are eventually kept away from other children and taught by Christopher Reeve (in his last role before being paralyzed). Reeve’s Alan Chaffee knows there is a problem brewing and starts trying to find ways to block the children’s psychic powers. He also starts to connect with the young David, who seems to have more empathy than the other children. This is, in part, due to the stillborn having been meant to be his partner.
Really, the visuals of the film are striking. The five children with shocking silver hair and the subtle visual effects (primarily in their eyes and faces, the more intensely they focus, the more their alien physiology becomes dominant).
The performances are all dependable for the needs of the film. Reeve makes good use of his decent guy reputation and Kirstie Alley is good in the role of cold and calculating government liaison Dr. Susan Verner. But really? the standouts are Thomas Dekker as David and Lindsey Haun as Mara. Haun is chilling and full of menace, while Dekker’s growing humanity makes him truly sympathetic in his loneliness.
While not as unique as his previous remake, the Village of the Damned is a nicely done horror film that pays homage to more classic horror.