Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 4, 2020

The Happening review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:41 pm

Jun 13, 2008

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel

Director: Manoj Night Shyamalan

I see dead people. Lots of them actually in M Night Shyamalan’s new film The Happening, which isn’t quite in the league of his breakthrough hit The Sixth Sense, but it’s certainly not half as bad as his last film, that mind-numbing fairytale Lady In The Water.

Mark Wahlberg plays a science teacher in a Philadelphia school who flees to the countryside with his wife Zooey Deschanel when strange occurrences begin taking place in New York City. People are stopping dead in their tracks and killing themselves gruesomely.

It’s not yet known what has caused this but there are reports that this outbreak is spreading. While on the run from this inexplicable disaster, Wahlberg concludes these occurrences are the result of deadly airborne toxins released by plants and trees.

Of course there’s no real evidence to suggest any of this, but Wahlberg’s a science teacher so we in the audience and the others escaping with him have no choice but to go with his logic.

The Happening has an engaging enough premise and its got its fair share of supernatural thrills and B-movie creepiness, but unlike the filmmaker’s finest films, it doesn’t have that certain something that jumps out at you and pulls the rug from under your feet.

I’m not going to give out any spoilers here so I won’t tell you if it’s got a twist in the end. What I will tell you is that it keeps you under its spell for the most part, but then cops out just when you’re expecting the big bang.

Despite its obvious flaws, The Happening isn’t all that bad. In fact, there’s much to admire about the film. Disaster-movie fans will agree it’s a relief we’re not subjected to swarms of screaming-shouting people, clawing each other and fighting for seats in cars and trains in their efforts to go as far away as they can from impending death.

Also, you cannot help but enjoy the simplicity of the film’s basic premise and its treatment — no dizzying special effects, no ridiculous aliens, no fancy trimmings.

In a sense, The Happening is Shyamalan’s simplest film yet, and his most straightforward story. How I wish he’d finished it better. I’m going to go with two out of five and an average rating for M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.

Lots happens, what happens stops happening eventually. But you never really know why it happened in the first place. That according to me is fraud.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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