As the Village Sleeps takes the hidden roles style of games and tries to apply it to a horror movie. The set up isn’t new. If you’re not familiar with this type of game, everyone draws cards to decide roles. You keep your role secret as everyone tries to figure out the target, be it werewolf, alien, bad guy, or something like that. We’ve seen this basic idea used in countless films. While some, such as The Thing and most recently Werewolf Within, have the set up used in the forefront, not many have used it to this level.
Sarah is at her stepfather cabin for a few days to enjoy her birthday with a few friends. Tensions rise when she realizes that her best friend Connie not only invited her boyfriend but all Sarah’s ex-boyfriend. The party becomes even more complicated when stepsister Tala also shows up and, in a rush, to get everyone together to have fun, they decide to play Lynching, a game that’s more than it seems. We jump to people waking up and slowing piecing together the night as members of the party start to disappear.
While the premise has promise, the execution is lacking. From wooden acting to clunky dialog, we’re treated to want amounts to boring run on sentence of a movie. Roles are played anywhere between okay to downright bad. Sarah (Eleonora Saravalle) as the lead is likeable enough but she falls into the helpless damsel in distress troupe. The rest of cast include best friend Connie (Chloe Caemmerer) who doesn’t come off very much like a best friend and more just a selfish brat. Then there’s ex-boyfriend Alex (Oliver Rotunno) who possesses zero on screen chemistry with Sarah and comes off more like the weird younger brother.
As the Village Sleeps use of editing and film are in line with the acting. The lighting washed out some scenes creating a grainy effect that could have worked if it was consistent or felt intentional. The editing and plotting are what hurts the movie the most though. We get flash backs to events that happened just minutes ago, it felt like this was because the runtime needed to be extended. The plotting did proverbial backflips to make sense of what was going on. If something went against the established rules, we were treated to a random scene to justify the shift.
With the lopsided acting, generally boring characters and shoddy editing, you would expect As the Village Sleeps to fair lower than it is. That’s the thing though, while there are marks against it, the audio was rather well done and there could have been an interesting film buried below all the mediocrity. Ultimately that’s the word I would use to describe this, mediocre. There are worse films to watch out there. But there are also a lot better ones. If nothing else, it ends up being a lesson of finishing what you start.
4 out of 10