The Happening

Year: 2008
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is more or less M. Night Shyamalan’s movie about the environmental problems our planet faces.  A message about the damage we are doing to this world and the danger we would be in if it were able to fight back.  This movie received a very critical response from fans and critics alike but I enjoyed it; as I enjoy most of Shyamalan’s films.  People hated this movie, but if we are being honest here, people have progressively hated nearly everything he has made since The Sixth Sense blew everybody away and became such a big hit.  I think because of the shocker that The Sixth Sense offered at the end people have always expected too much from him.  Not only that, but the advertising for all of his films has always been misleading in order to get people into the theater.  They intentionally lead the viewers to believe that his films will offer similar shockers and thrills but he hasn’t made a movie with quite the same bang to it at the end.  His movies are usually a metaphor for something else and people don’t understand that.

I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan and ironically it has nothing to do with his first film.  I wasn’t always the biggest fan of The Sixth Sense. I chose to watch Kevin Bacon’s similar Stir of Echoes that year and enjoyed it quite a bit.  By the time I got around to seeing The Sixth Sense the ending had already been spoiled for me and I thought it was too much like a movie I already liked.  What made me a fan of Shyamalan were all his films after.  I love Unbreakableit may have been slower but it was a good movie.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Signs because I thought it was too religious but that was what it was about.  The movie is more about Mel Gibson rediscovering his faith than it is about aliens, and I fell victim to the misleading advertising in that case. The Village is one of my all-time favorite movies; it is a great story about fear and love.  I may have been the only person but I loved Lady in the Water too, it really hit me hard in the theater and the story touched me on a personal level.  This film was admittedly not his best movie, but I like it nonetheless.  Like I said, people expect too much from Shyamalan.  The idea that plants could turn on humanity seemed so ridiculous to most of the people I knew at the time but I didn’t think it was that far-fetched. Yeah, it is unlikely to happen, but that is what makes watching movies great.  They allow us to see the things that are unlikely to happen in real life. I do not care what anybody else thinks, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a terrific filmmaker and I will always take the time to see and enjoy his movies.

At one point in the film they are running through a field and pass a sign advertising real estate development coming for the area.  On the sign you can plainly see the phrase “you deserve this.” It is meant to imply that as humans we are being too greedy in exploiting the Earth and destroying nature.  We deserve what is happening to us now as the plants have found a way to fight back. It’s very subtle and I’m sure it completely escaped the attention of the average viewer but it is those subtle things in Shyamalan movies that make them exceptional.  Shyamalan makes great movies but he attracts the wrong kind of viewer by and large with the studio advertising for the film.  With plenty of the wrong viewers sitting in the audience these kinds of subtle effects are missed while most of the audience is just waiting for the next person to kill themselves.  When you go to Shyamalan movies looking for shock and awe you walk away not only disappointed but missing out on the message of the movie all together.

I thought the acting was specifically bad in this movie.  I am no fan of the racist ex-con Mark Wahlberg but I will admit when he does a good job acting.  That isn’t called for after his performance in this movie though; he is as bad as he gets in this one.  I also thought Zooey Deschnal and John Leguizamo were bad in their roles.  None of the actors really seemed invested in the film or story.  It was cool to see Ferris Bueller’s Alan Ruck in a small role as the school principal. Shyamalan usually has a better cast on hand but maybe the casting in this film reflects his dwindling clout within the industry.  As I said earlier his films have been progressively hated and I have heard the studios are getting tired of it.  I am under the impression he was not allowed to direct what would have been his last film, Devil (2010).  He was credited with writing the movie, which I thought was really good and Shyamalan-like but the directing duties were given to someone else. I hope I am wrong about that however and we continue to see more movies from him in the future.

I do have to take a quick moment to give some credence to the critics of this film.  This movie absolutely does fall to pieces in the end, and the story is never really resolved.  I completely understand why so many people hated that and I don’t really like it myself but I have seen worse endings.  I liked that Shyamalan sort of left it open for speculation.  Was it a government accident and cover-up or did nature in fact turn violent against humanity? Of course he screwed it all up with the last shot of the film.  It really doesn’t make much sense for the scare to stop in one place just to start up somewhere else if nobody gets the message.  Are the plants compassionate? Is that it? Were they moved by the love between the two main characters? It doesn’t really make sense and I think that is pretty lame but I still enjoy the movie despite it.

In closing I will simply say that anybody you happen to ask will probably tell you that this was a really bad movie and not to waste your time on it.  I am telling you different though, this isn’t the greatest movie ever but it wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It does kind of fall to pieces in the ending but the movie as a whole makes up for it. I think it offers shocking images, an interesting story, and a compelling idea about our relationship to the planet.  This movie is worth your time if you can be patient enough to appreciate what it is saying.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan and I are the only ones on the planet that actually like M. Night Shalalalalalallalalala. I think all of his ideas are completely original and speak on a much larger level. This is one of those films that try and teach us that we need to start taking care of the planet or the planet is going to get back at us. I think he did it quite literally. The plant life literally starts attacking the humans. I can totally understand why people wouldn’t like this movie. I don’t think a lot of people have any faith in Shyamalan anymore and automatically go into it thinking this is going to be horrible.

I identify with this movie because it has to do with saving the Earth. I won’t preach here, but we have a serious problem on our hands with the planet, and we need to figure out a better plan and alternative.
There were three different posters for this movie and I think this one was the better one, but I still don’t really like it. I think that they could have come up with something a lot more interesting. This is pretty cliché for an apocalyptic themed film. This looks very similar to the design for The Walking Dead, the color filters are just different. The typography for the movie title is nice. I like a clean sans serif. But the placement of the just seems too easy and boring.

NEXT MOVIE: Happy Gilmore (1996)

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