Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John
Leguizamo, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Ashlyn Sanchez
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.thehappeningmovie.com/
Opening Day: 12 June 2008
From director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs)
comes a lightning-paced, heart-pounding paranoid thriller
about a family on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable
event that threatens not only humankind . . . but the most
basic human instinct of them all: survival. For Philadelphia
high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Wahlberg) what matters
most is finding a way to escape the mysterious and deadly
phenomenon. Though he and his wife Alma (Deschanel) are in
the midst of a marital crisis, they hit the road, first by
train, then by car, with Elliot’s math teacher friend
Julian (Leguizamo) and his 8 year-old daughter Jess, heading
for the Pennsylvania farmlands where they hope they’ll
be out of reach of the grisly, ever-growing attacks. Yet it
soon becomes clear that no one – and nowhere –
Dear Mr. Shyamalan,
think the world is being is unfair to you. Sure, you wrote
and directed your Hollywood breakout hit about a boy who sees
dead people in 1999. The prestigious Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences was so impressed with that film, they nominated
you for two Oscars. Then you made the movie about an unbreakable
superhero in 2002. People started to suspect you had nothing
fresh up your sleeves anymore. In 2004, you questioned my
faith with those crop circles. Your fan base became smaller.
And in 2006, when all you wanted to tell was a simple bedtime
story about a water nymph, critics said that you have lost
it isn’t easy being a writer-director-producer these
days, is it?
the record, I empathize with you, Mr. Shymalan. And I truly
understand what you are getting at in your older movies. I
have just seen your latest work, and judging by how the rest
of the world is having instant messaging nicknames like “Nothing
Happens” and questioning on Facebook how you still get
financing for your films, I seriously think it is increasingly
difficult to live in this harsh world, with all the high and
mighty expectations people have of you.
latest script tells the story of a man on the run. Running
from what? He has no idea. To tell you the truth, I have no
idea either. But the bigger picture of things tells me that
humanity is facing a crisis so serious that if we do not deal
with it, we may get wiped out from the face of the Earth.
No one will be safe, and there is no one you can trust anymore.
I guess that’s about the most I can write in this letter
to you without giving away too much spoilers, because that
is something you are very against. After all, there was no
major media preview for this movie, which probably says something
about what you are trying to hide from pesky media reviewers
to what you are trying to convey with this movie - Just the
thought of the above scenario happening sends shivers down
my spines. Imagine, you don’t know what is attacking
you, and people around you are doing weird things to themselves.
You can only watch in horror as a fellow human being perish.
This premise is ingenious indeed.
you should know the pitfalls of escalating this plot to such
a height. When you provide a conclusion that doesn’t
satisfy the crowd out there, they turn into an angry mob.
What you get in return are harsh and unkind reviews, asking
you to retire and stop making films. It doesn’t help
that you got Mark Whalberg who isn’t exactly the most
expressive actor around to play your protagonist. His co-stars
Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo fare okay, but do not deliver
a performance as memorable as that boy Haley Joel Osment in
your Oscar nominated movie nine years ago.
I really love though, is your choice of composer. James Newton
Howard’s score for your latest work is one fine piece
of art, especially when he hauntingly infuses tension with
emotion in the final act. What brilliance. Maya Beiser’s
cello solos are poignant and evocative too.
know you have a film entitled The Last Airbender in the works
for 2010 already. It is a live action adaptation of an animated
series. Maybe it’s for the better that you are staying
off the mystery genre for a while, but it looks like you’ve
had enough of this harsh world already. But I still thank
you for The Happening - It is keeping me disturbed and awake
enough at 4.45am to pen this review. It is probably due to
forces at work beyond our understanding.
the case, I wish you all the best, Mr. Shyamalan.
John Li, a supportive and forgiving fan
(You either get bowled over by Shymalan’s latest premise,
or dismiss it as a gimmicky mess – it all depends on
Review by John Li