: The Happening
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Shyamalan has made his reputation making suspense movies with unexpected endings. These have not always worked as they often rely too much on the gimmicky ending. They also can be inscrutible during the watching as you have no idea where the film is going or what is happening. This one follows the latter formula, but fortunately or unfortunately, it has no twist ending. Instead, the mystery is never fully explained. In a way, that is good: it’s different and it fits with the film’s message, but it’s also exasperating if you’re expecting a resolution. Instead you leave the film just as bewildered as before you went in! That said, I still liked the film. The premise is interesting — a toxin of some kind is causing mass suicides and panic spreads as people flee to towns to rural areas to escape, and we follow a couple and their friend’s daughter as they run away. No one knows why this is happening or how to stop it, which is the mystery which is never solved. But some of the characters are interesting (the wife and little girl are particularly good, though Mark Wahlberg as the man is poorly cast) and there are some shocks and frightening scenes which keep you intrigued. One thing Shyamalan did that was smart is to keep the film short: if it was longer than 90 minutes it would have felt too long. As it is, it’s just long enough to feel creepy and fascinated, but not so long as to get annoying. I ended up liking the film, though it’s certainly nothing remarkable. It’s mildly interesting and has some good scenes and an idea or two, but in the end, like most of Shyamalan’s recent films, it depends too much on a single idea and there’s not enough depth or story. As entertainment, it’s not bad, but don’t expect much. Get out of it what you can. I did and liked it, but your mileage may vary.