June 18, 2008

We’ve Sensed It. We’ve Seen The Signs. Now… It’s Happening.

Posted in Drama, Horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller at 5:37 am by inflickted

M. Knight. Shyamalan has been touted as the next Alfred Hitchcock of movies because of his subtlety in translating horror, thrill and suspense into the big screen. A great example of this is his widely successful and absolutely spine chilling horror, “Sixth Sense.” Ever since then, Shyamalan has been praised for his great attention to character development, creepy moments and twist endings.

Unfortunately, the promising director has been losing his touch with his other offerings. “Unbreakable” was only mildly successful, “Signs” was the same, “The Village” was not as good as hoped and “Lady in the Water” was unimpressive, to say the least. One thing I do notice is that there are certain aspects of the movie which are really good, but in the whole, it cannot be saved by these few gems.

For his latest offering Shyamalan brings back to us his idea of making something so innocuous, be so frightening. Hopefully his downward spiral ends here. This is the review for “The Happening.”

“The Happening” tells of people committing suicide for no apparent reason. It is up to our surviving characters to find out what’s the cause and prevent their own demise. The story has one great premise. What/Who is causing this anomaly?  How do you fight something you cannot see? How do you tackle the unknown? That idea alone can scare anyone out of their wits. The movie has a great build up. In fact the first few minutes were great at building up the tension and the intrigue. But as it moves along, it begins meandering to the point it gets tedious.

The actors were no help at all either. I honestly didn’t even remember their names! Mark Walberg was painful to watch. He was so unconvincing as a science teacher that it’s so obvious that he just memorized the words coming out of his mouth. He was also terrible at conveying tension, and nothing can throw you off a horror story more than that. Zooey Deschanel, plays Walberg’s love interest, fared slightly better but her lines were mediocre. The two has such terrible chemistry, you never feel like they’re in a relationship.  Then here’s this crazy old woman played by Betty Buckley who was just over the top!

M. Knight Shyamalan wrote, directed and produced this movie. As a writer, Shyamalan was a bit substandard. It would have been better if he had someone else with him writing the thing. On the other hand, as a director, Shyamalan is very skilled. Never has the rustling of trees and grass been more haunting. Every death scene totally captivates you and builds on the fear and suspense. The impact of these sequences is off the charts as the sound design and score add so much to an already horrifying moment. Landscapes, clouds, even the sun looked menacing. I will say that this is one of the better looking movies he has done and almost covers up his weak plot and script.

The Rated R rating was all too obvious. The graphic deaths of the inflicted were both unnerving and effective. People throwing themselves off buildings, climbing up ladders and hanging themselves on trees, ramming a car at top speed towards a tree, even the slitting of the wrists were all mesmerizing and frightening. I also think that the explanation at the end was to some degree, unnecessary. Some unexplained phenomena should just remain that . . . unexplained. A more lingering sense of mystery would have served the material better. Another problem is that there is no real antagonist. All you will see are people running from the wind, which doesn’t quite work.

“The Happening” is simply not as good a movie as it could have been. It could’ve had a better screenplay, it could’ve had better actors, it could’ve had more mystery. The film’s core annoyance is that it’s engrossing one minute and inconceivable the next, off and on, off and on, for ninety minutes. However, it is also not as bad as most would think. It starts out strong and draws you in to the story, it has a great premise and it is shot beautifully, and because of these, the movie is at least good for one viewing. It is the kind of subtle movie only the Shyamalan print bears. I just wished it was a little less subtle.

It gets a subtle 1.9 out of 5 or 38% infectious



  1. Matt said,

    I think im going to wait to rent this one.. I’ve really gone off Shyamalan’s movies now!

  2. paolo said,

    is the movie so bad that i find this post more compelling?

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