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Review Written by: Alex Sandell
After the utter embarrassment of
Lady in the Water,
Director and Screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan has looked to the past to
save his future as a filmmaker. But he isn't dipping back into the well
that made his name above the credits a star attraction (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs). He's
looking back to the 1950s for a career revival. The Happening is a
modern day Invasion of
the Body Snatchers or Them!
A throwback to the atomic-bomb and red-scare fueled movies where only
the brainy scientist may be able to save the rest of us numskulls from
the havoc we've created.
In The Happening,
Mark Wahlberg is the heroic scientist with the clunky dialogue, wooden
personality and big brain. But he isn't defending the world from
irradiated ants or commies -- those were your grandparents' monsters.
No -- Mark Wahlberg, as Elliot Moore, is running from terrorists and ...
And it's the "and" there that will divide the audience. Various
theories surround the incidents in The
Happening but the underlying message of one of them will
determine whether or not you enjoy the movie. If you tend to ignore the
liberal bias held by reality you'll likely be turned off by this film.
If you gobbled up An
Inconvenient Truth faster than Al Gore did the buffet
table -- this is your kind of B movie.
Even the undesirable elements of the film, such as the aforementioned
stiff acting and clunky dialogue, tend to work in its favor. This
really does feel like a 21st Century version of Paranoia Night at the
Movies. Thankfully, what M. Night and crew does right works even
better. The mass suicides (or are they?) are staged, lit, edited and
directed for maximum eeriness. The premise is unique and intriguing --
whether you buy into it or not. The film is largely devoid of hope and
its apprehensiveness is contagious.
M. Night has taken his filmmaking in a new direction and, after The Village and Lady in the Water
this turn is more than welcome. No, he hasn't created a masterpiece
worthy of The Sixth
Sense, but he has created a very, very good horror movie.
And that's far more than I was expecting and more than enough to
satisfy. If you can, see it at the
drive-in and make the experience complete.