Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #217 The Happening

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2011 at 10:52 PM


Movie #217 The Happening

(2008, US, d. M. Night Shyamalan)

In contention for the worst film of the decade (along with his next film), M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is an apocalyptic thriller that starts out with considerable promise and then quickly descends into the pit of despair that is Mark Wahlberg’s acting and Shyamalan’s tension-free script. The concept itself is one of merit. It makes me sad that it wasn’t one a part of the Night Chronicles, wherein Shyamalan gives an idea to a filmmaker to produce (Devil was the first film released in this format). Basically, any filmmaker could have handled this material better. The idea that a bunch of people begin to commit suicide on a mass scale is terrifying. But then a quarter through the film, Shyamalan propones an idea: it was the plants, which are now retaliating against humanity. From there, the concept becomes silly, though the film began that descent far earlier. Mark Wahlberg plays Elliot Moore, a high school teacher who begins to piece together the mystery of what’s going on. Slowly and slowly, he takes clue after clue and forms the theory that perhaps…there is no explanation to the whole mystery. Wahlberg, as usual, is only as good as the material he’s in. Here he plays the most annoying, bumbling, pubescent clown who often gets you wondering how he even secured a job as a science teacher at a high school, let alone any teacher. Perhaps making him a PE instructor would have been more accurate. All in all, apart from the first 10 minutes, there are no thrills, the dialogue is uninspired, the homages to B films of the 40’s create a wavering atmosphere, and the performances are truly laughable. Only Tak Fujimoto’s beautiful cinematography comes close to salvaging this film. His painfully symmetrical depictions of Pennsylvania countrysides and urban jungles do a lot for the tension, which again, is undercut by the script.


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