The Happening (2008) - A movie that takes its audience seriously and offers a lot of food for thought - 8/10 (13/03/17)
Shyamalan might be one of the most unstable contemporary directors in terms of quality. There are some of his movies which I disliked completely like ''The Village'' being wrongfully advertised as a horror movie even though it's a slow-paced drama. Other movies are quite overrated like ''The Sixth Sense'' that has its moments but isn't that compelling once you have figured out the predictable twist. Then again, Shyamalan has also directed some films that are close to perfection like the intense ''Split'' with its claustrophobic atmosphere. And then there are some of his movies that I like quite a lot but which are extremely underrated. ''The Happening'' is exactly this kind of movie.
What I liked about the movie is that it didn't include a twist like most of Shyamalan's other movies and that it doesn't really answer all the questions. Some theories are spread throughout the film and the movie has a strong environmental message but it's never getting too educational or pretentious. The film indirectly criticizes the media that are jumping to conclusions about terrorist attacks and toxic gases which end up influencing some tragic events in the movie. This film offers a lot of food for thought without exaggerating things and lets the viewers think by themselves.
The acting blends in perfectly. The actors are showing emotions of care and fear but we don't get the usual stereotypes of crying and yelling people like in so many other disaster movies. I liked Mark Wahlberg's performance as goofy but resilient science teacher that perfectly complemented Zooey Deschanel's character which was rather insecure and stressful. The two characters felt charming and realistic with their genuine flaws and strengths where an optimist had to deal with a realist. The side characters weren't particularly compelling but diversified enough to keep the movie entertaining from start to finish. We get introduced to aggressive survivalists, nervous soldiers and paranoid recluses among others.
I liked the fact that the movie didn't have any lengths. It takes less than five minutes for the introduction and the conclusion and focuses on the body of the movie. Shyamalan takes us on an epic survival journey developing a gloomy and slightly surrealist atmosphere that gives the movie a very unique mood. It neither focuses on special effects nor on a dystopian atmosphere like so many other films of its kind and opts for a mysterious approach instead.
Overall, the acting, mood and script are compelling because they are creative, entertaining and unique. Most people criticized the movie because their expectations of a spectacular disaster movie with a surprising twist weren't met or simply because they didn't fully understand the movie and tried to interpret the origins and reasons behind the happening. As the movie mentions itself, some things cannot be explained and should just be taken the way they are. If you accept this rule and don't have any specific expectations, ''The Happening'' will surprise you positively. This movie might not be a masterpiece but it clearly is one of the most distinctive disaster films of the new millennium.« Melancholic depths - A review of Seventh Dimension's ''Recognition''The longest ice hockey game ever »
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