Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Happening: In Review

The final film on my list is The Happening, the new thriller from M. Night Shyamalan starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. In this film a weird occurence leads to unexplained deaths when people seem to stop moving and to proceed to kill themselves by any means. In what as viewed as a terrorist attack, people evacuate the large cities to go to smaller towns to avoid these attacks. In the film, we follow a professor, his wife and his friend's little daughter trying to avoid the attacks from running away and hiding as much as they can from the occurences which is then viewed as an attack brought on by plants (or trees or grass ?!?).
M. Night has a very good style of filmmaking, reminding me a little of Hitchcock. The Sixth Sense took the world by surprise (with, arguably, the best twist ending ever), Unbreakable and Signs were very good films dealing with human nature. Unfortunately, you have to wonder what happened. The Village was disappointing, Lady In The Water was long and carried no great suspense. In his newest project, the audience is left guessing all the way to the end. Indeed, we are offered with no real explanation as to how this 'thing' attacks the people, why it happens only in certain places and certain times and no possible way of stopping it. Maybe it's the way he intended the film to be, to let us figure out how to stop the obvious, since the only thing clear in this film is it's message. For those of you expecting a twist ending like M. Night delivers in each of his films, well let me just say, if you don't already know, you will probably be disappointed. Wahlberg tries to carry the film, but you can't do it all the time. Deschanel's performance seems inconsistent, and probably the worst thing ever happens in this film, when a father leaves his child going to his almost certain death instead of taking a chance and staying with her. Probably the luckiest thing we see in the film is the absence of M. Night physically in the film, as his role (apparently necessary in a Shyamalan film) is limited to a voice on the phone provoking a weird situation between the couple.
I still haven't given up on M. Night because I believe he is a good filmmaker, but I certainly hope he gets out of his bad streak.
Rating: 1.5/4

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