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Published on Oct 24, 2013
The occupants of a small Pennsylvania village in 1897 live in fear of nameless creatures in the surrounding woods. They have built a big barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch for "Those We Don't Speak Of." It is explained that the villagers have a long-standing truce with the monsters; the villagers do not go into their woods, and the creatures do not enter their village. After the funeral of a seven-year-old boy, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from "the towns." His request is denied and later he is admonished by his mother, Alice (Sigourney Weaver), for wanting to go to the towns, which the villagers describe as "wicked places where wicked people live." The Elders seem to keep dark secrets of their own in black boxes, the contents of which they keep hidden from their own offspring. After Lucius makes a short venture into the woods, the creatures leave warnings around the village in the form of splashes of red paint (referred to by the villagers only as "the bad color") on all the villagers' doors. Meanwhile, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), the blind daughter of the chief Elder, Edward Walker (William Hurt), informs Lucius that she has strong feelings for him, and he returns her affections. They arrange to be married, but things go horribly wrong when Noah Percy (Adrien Brody), a young man with apparent developmental problems, stabs Lucius with a knife because he is in love with Ivy himself. Noah is locked in a room until a decision is made about his fate. Edward goes against the wishes of the other Elders, agreeing to allow Ivy to pass through the forest and seek out medicine for Lucius. Before she leaves, Edward explains the secret of the creatures: they are "farce," bogeymen created by the Elders to keep the children from entering the woods in an attempt to keep them from leaving the village. Edward does mention, however, that "Those We Don't Speak Of" were based upon legends that he had heard at one time, of "real creatures" living in the woods. Ivy seems only partly convinced by this explanation, inquiring whether the skinned animals were "also farce."