Movie Review: The Happening (2008)

3/10 … and that’s because I don’t see too many 2s

081127_HappeningPrincipal: [to concerned teachers] “Alright, there appears to be an event happening. Central Park was just hit by what seems to be a terrorist attack. They’re not clear on the scale yet. It’s some kind of airborne chemical toxin that’s been released in and around the park. They said to watch for warning signs. The first stage is confused speech. The second stage is physical disorientation, loss of direction. The third stage…is fatal.”

Most of the movies I review I enjoy and recommend to the attention of others. Occasionally, I’ll go slumming and to try to gather page visits from the masses… e.g. RV, Talladega Nights, Fool’s Gold, and a few others—actually these all have some redeeming critical qualities IMHO. But I’m going to go out on a limb and state that of the popular movies I’ve seen, except for the absolutely atrocious Mars Attacks, this latest effort from M. Night Shyamalan should either a) not have gotten off the cutting floor or b) the metaphor is so esoteric and deep that my modest intellect cannot fathom it.

Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Mark Wahlberg … Elliot Moore
Zooey Deschanel … Alma Moore
John Leguizamo … Julian
Ashlyn Sanchez … Jess
Betty Buckley … Mrs. Jones
Spencer Breslin … Josh

Like M. Night’s popular Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis and Signs with Mel Gibson, I assumed that The Happening would be a movie that was difficult to discuss without giving away an important revelation that gives meaning to the story and people’s bizarre behavior.  In the case of the two former movies, we saw that the thoughts of the protagonist(s) were all a big, beautiful, though troubling, metaphor for the reality of things.  I enjoyed Sixth Sense and Signs for that reason.  The viewer stumbles along saying, “Okay, that seems a little puzzling there, but this is science fiction, so I’ll suspend disbelief.”  Until in the final few scenes the author gives you the final piece of the puzzle, and it’s “Aha!” Continue reading