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”)