Arts Movies

Movie Review: The Happening

I love M. Night Shyamalan’s films.  The man makes me speechless.  The storylines in Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village will always be amongst my favorites, especially The Village.  There was just something haunting about it and the character that Joaquin Phoenix played. 

Lady in the Water was different from what the first trailers made me expect, but I still enjoyed it.  I even liked Unbreakable, although I don’t remember a lot about it.

So I was really looking forward to seeing The Happening.  Even though it was being marketed as an actual horror film, of which I’ve never been too fond, I knew that Shyamalan would put his own spin on it that would not include a half-naked, screaming blond.  He did not disappoint me in that respect; however, the movie fell flat.  

It’s only an hour and a half long, so I feel like character development was sacrificed for brevity.  Sure the story ran its course, and I did feel slightly invested in the main characters, but there was no depth.  There were definitely cringe-worthy horror-type moments, but there were few, if any moments, that I’ve come to expect in Shyamalan’s films.  There was the unveiling of the unorthodox resolution to the conflict, which was never actually confirmed – only speculated, but it didn’t carry the shock value of Sixth Sense, Signs or The Village.  There wasn’t that eye-opening moment of realization in which you find yourself thinking, “My god, Man, where do you get these ideas?!”

Mark Wahlberg is Elliott, an ordinary, crush-worthy high school science teacher who’s fiercely loyal to his wife, Alma, played by Zooey Deschanel.  She might not have been the half-naked, screaming blond, but she did her job in annoying me several times.  John Leguizamo is Julian, a math teacher who teaches at the same school as Elliott.

The dialogue between Leguizamo and Wahlberg was pretty bad.  I don’t know if it was directed on purpose that way, but there were moments when I found myself thinking, “These guys are better actors than this.  Why does this feel so fake and forced?”  

I know several of the TV trailers I saw were highlighting the fact that this was Shyamalan’s first R-rated film, and I’m a little puzzled about the rating.  Yes, there were some bloody, gory moments, but none for which I had to turn my head.  The bloodiest, goriest ones weren’t even shown.  They left those to your imagination, and my imagination couldn’t even make them scary enough.

I applaud Shyamalan for taking two very current newsworthy topics and making a film which I’m sure he hopes will raise awareness; however, I’m hoping for much greater things from his next film.  Please don’t let the spark of creativity go out!

3 replies on “Movie Review: The Happening”

Thanks for your review, Ashleigh. I haven’t seen the film yet, but based on your review I wonder if Shyamalan rushed the production of this film in order to play on the “two very current newsworthy topics” you mentioned.

It’s highly possible. It occurred to me the other day that I’ve always been hesitant to make writing my career because what if I have a horrible case of writer’s block and can’t think of anything. Then I just thought well, “You write what you can. If it sucks, get over it and move onto the next thing. Eventually it will be great again.” So maybe Shyamalan just had a momentary lapse in greatness?

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