I read a complaint when these books first came out that they were too horribly violent to be appropriate for children. This was before "The Hunger Games," which I'm sure threw that particular complainer into a state of permanent shock. This was also missing the point, which is that while the Baudelaire orphans are in constant peril, the dangers are as ridiculously over the top as the ingenious escapes the children manage to contrive. You can't really believe any of it, so you can sit back and enjoy the show.
The genius of these books is that they maintain a certain level of absurdity, while managing at the same time to make the reader care. The Baudelaires are likable and developed characters who are fighting to survive in a strange universe. Those of us with any memory left of early childhood can relate.
"The Vile Village" makes some terrific points about the kind of people who care more about paperwork and rules than humanity. Those of us who have attended school and/or worked for large corporations can *definitely* relate.
The book also gets in a dig at people (you know who you are) who are indifferent to human suffering, but who'll drop everything and weep for an injured bird.