Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Happening

The Happening 2008
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley and Spencer Breslin
I am not the biggest fan of Shyamalan’s films. I stopped seeing them after my horrible experience with the Village. But, I kept hearing good things about The Happening and when I needed another movie to rent one evening I finally rented it and was pleasantly surprised. While not the best film ever made it was definitely an entertaining one. The story is pretty tense and suspenseful and the cast does a solid job. Wahlberg is usually pretty forgettable but he does a decent job in this film. The ending was sort of resolved too quickly but it also had the requisite final scare most modern horror films have now. I think it succeeds much better than some of his other films like Signs. It is a film that has a message about what humans are doing to the planet and what could be a state of revolution by nature on the way we treat it. It is a film that makes you think and that is always a good thing.
The plot basics are this, Eliot Moore (Wahlberg) is a high school science teacher who finds himself thrust into a terrifying experience. It seems a incident at a local park has created widespread panic and now people think that terrorists are attacking. Eliot soon figures out that it is not terrorists but nature attacking humanity for all the sins it metes out on it. So Eliot along with his wife Alma (Deschanel) are on the run and trying to stay one step ahead of the massacre that is occurring. They will be fraught with obstacles both man made and nature made but will they be able to overcome these obstacles?
This is a tense and scary film. Shymalan’s direction is very tight especially during the fear filled scenes. I especially liked the scene where they were trying to get into a house and the actions that follow after they interact with the people in the house. The script is pretty good, it does not try to over explain what is happening, it just lets it happen. There is not much characterization it is much more a plot centric film and that is both a pro and a con. The viewer really doesn’t ever feel too much empathy for the characters so you never really care what happens to them. The cast is pretty decent. Wahlberg does a decent job but sometimes he tries to act like an action hero instead of a math teacher. Deschanel is ok but she is very annoying and you never really like her. Leguizamo gives the best performance in the film and really feels like a harried husband and father and he carries the film during his scenes. There is little or no SFX or make up effects in the film. This is a film that really relies on mood and atmosphere to carry it along and it does that very well. The score by James Newton Howard is very eerie and melancholy and suits the story well. This is a fun scary movie and one that is worth checking out.
This one gets 3 out of 5

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