Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"The Happening"

Everybody has called it quits on M. Night Shyamalan, but I still have hope in him. His ideas are still good, and he still has the ability to manipulate characters and a story to make it seem as if the supernatural is acting behind it all without any special effects. With his latest efforts however (“Lady In The Water”, “The Village”), other imbalances in the narrative damage what has the potential to be great films. Like in “The Happening”.

At first, I was a bit thrown off by the unnatural, stiff dialogue and emotion of the characters, but quickly began to be entertained by it, realizing that it’s Shyamalan’s trademark fairy-tale like narrative. A morbid, blood-painted fairy-tale. Mark Wahlberg’s performance carried the movie gracefully, as well as John Leguizamo’s grave mood making character.

I suppose if it were some novice director or even worse, Eli Roth, making another one of these art-house imitation horror movies where grotesque creatures and odd images are flashed every two seconds in the trailer, I’d come to see the gory deaths and accept the somewhat reasonable excuse to connect it all. Actually, no I wouldn’t. If it wasn’t for Shyamalan’s name behind it, I wouldn’t have watched this film at all (everything looks good in the coming attractions, but if you want to know if something will most likely be good or not, you look at who’s behind the camera).

Anyway, because his name is behind it, I looked past the “first Rated R” –ness that the commercials dramatically put forth, past the bizarre gore, for the brilliant, interconnected endings that he usually delivers. But no dice.

I think he left “The Happening” too vague. The “we’ll never truly understand” theme seemed like a bit of a cop out, as though he didn’t really feel like explaining the reason and just wanted to thrill and shock audiences with this invisible menace. I mean, the movie does explain a good chunk of the inner workings of the bigger picture, but I didn’t feel it was enough to be satisfied with not knowing more. Coupled with the fact that the sub-plot resolved with nothing substantial to add to the story whatsoever, I left the theater with a bit of an empty feeling, and figured that he was perhaps planning a sequel.

Regardless, “The Happening” was still chock full of his “natural oddities” (unadulterated with CGI), and his unique brand of eeriness. So, the film was still decent to me. But Shyamalan must review himself, review his vision, and take his storytelling skills back to what they were in “Signs” (yes, Signs, which was better than “The Sixth Sense”)


  1. Don't Feed The PixiesJune 18, 2008 at 9:48 AM

    Its always a bit sad when a film doesn't live up to the initial promise - even more so when its by a Director you used to really trust. I love Terry Gilliam's early work - he's a Director apart from any other with an ability to turn anything on its head. Brazil is my favourite film and still makes me go "woah!" at the ending (NB Twelve Monkeys is also good, with similar themes to Brazil - albiet far more commercial)

    But then, ever since Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas there's been something missing and the films, at least for me, haven't delivered. I think its since he started making films of other peoples ideas instead of his own...

    I really liked Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but thought that the ending of Signs was a missed opportunity - not seen any of his films since.

    Tim Burton is good. Very underrated

  2. I haven't seen any of M. Night Shyamalan's movies, but it's interesting that should even be a discussion of writing him off versus retaining faith in him. He started his directing career on a high level at a very young age. He has plenty of time ahead of him to screw up, take time off and still bounce back.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  3. It was very interesting reading your take on the movie. I'm going to see it tonight, and honestly I'm a little nervous - I'm really over gore focused films - and I'm prepared to be disappointed.

    And for the record, I thought Unbreakable was better than both The Sixth Sense AND Signs. Put together. ^_^

  4. The Clandestine SamuraiJune 20, 2008 at 7:51 AM


  5. Hmm...but is there a chance that we're so used to his strengths that we only recognize his weaknesses now? This is what I've started to wonder about famous people who start losing their fame/ability in the public's eyes.

  6. i saw tons of previews for this one, and i'm pumped to see it, though i'm not familiar with Shyamalan...his name is really "Night"?? that's pretty awesome (even if he did make it up). anyway, i love apocalyptic films. they feed the cynic in me. last night i was about to pick up 'soylent green' at blockbuster. have u seen it?

    on a sidenote - how do you travel to work?

  7. great film review. i shall be returning often

  8. I want to see this film as well. Especially because I have started to like Zooey Deschanel (by no apparent reason). I haven't seen any of M. Night Shyamalan's movies yet, but I guess I should and as I have understood this movie isn't one of his best according to your review. When I have time I will watch "Signs" then. :)

  9. I dug THE VILLAGE, personally. I'm not planning on seeing THE HAPPENING simply because it doesn't look as entertaining as his previous fair. To be honest though, I didn't even bother with LADY IN THE WATER.

  10. I didn't really like "The Happening". I was looking forward to it for a few months and feel greatly disappointed! "Lady in The Water" was just to weird for me. Someone ruined the end of Sixth Sense so I never really got into that movie. I consider myself a M. Night Shyamalan fan. Seen all his movies. "Signs" is my favorite. And I get the best laugh out of "Unbreakable"! I made my husband watch it a month or so ago. Samuel L. Jackson was so crazy!

  11. i actually didn't enjoy this film. It I had a good feeling about it though, as i enjoyed Signs and The Village.

  12. There's a cool debate going on over at this link about 'The Happening'you might want to read. It's starts with Mark Wahlberg being looked over for 'The Crow' reboot.


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