Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Sam Mercer, Barry Mendel
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Betty Buckley, Frank Collison, Ashlyn Sanchez
With the tagline ĎWe've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happeningí thereís a hint that Mr Shyamalan may be attempting to draw on the success of the first movie, if not the second, where he plainly didnít read the signs of his waning credibility as a director of note. The Happening is another disappointment. An apocalyptic, plot-driven piece in which a sudden mysterious epidemic of suicides hit the north eastern coast of North America, there is little to recommend it, not even the wasted talents of Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo Ė all of them notably shackled by a directorial agenda that veers distractedly at unconvincing character elements and jarring dialogue.
The plot is simple. En masse, people in
The karmic message is current and the hints at 'energy emanations' topical but the handling is far too obvious, as is the entire structure of this movie. No doubt itís intentional that nearly all the interpersonal communications between characters miss their mark. Similarly that everyone manifests a range of dysfunction from neurosis through harmless greenie nuttiness to full blown paranoia and psychosis. The effect on the viewer, however, is disjointed and does the opposite of engaging us sympathetically with the characters. Where Steven King would have made them archetypal (The Mist) and Danny Boyle and his screenwriter for 28 Days Later, Alex Garland, would have made them intriguing, admirable or despicable, their character arcs pleasing, the survival of these diluted characters is random. And since our best scientific minds are either baffled or fanatical, itís hard for us to care for these bumbling, confused people. It rather lands us on the side of vengeful Nature.
Predictable plot twists make it tedious and clues to the mystery are overladen. Itís only slightly interesting that Shyamalan takes the basic genre of civilisation/humanity threatened and reverses the usual adaptive method of safety in numbers. Smaller groups seem to survive where large ones donít, until even that theory is disproved. An obvious ending doesnít help. Whatís happening, Mr Shyamalan?
© Avril Carruthers 11th June 2008
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