After the uneven and plot hole laced THE VILLAGE and the very disappointing (to me anyways) LADY IN THE WATER; M. Night Shyamalan finally takes a step towards "back to top form" with THE HAPPENING. Maybe the fact that the reviews I read before catching it murdered the hell out of it, hence my expectations were in the gutter right along with my ex girlfriend’s corpse; but I was engaged and entertained by this puppy (with rabies) for the most part.
THE HAPPENING started off with an uppercut right off the bat via a visceral and chilling sequence set in Central, Park New York. That bit set up the morbid stage and then off I went on a brutality laced joyride. In fact, through my sit down I kept thinking “Man M Night must be pissed off at the world these days, because he aint playing here”. You can almost sense the author’s (he wrote, produced and directed) anger seep through the screen to back-hand ya silly in your seat. Now, I won’t lie to ya, the inventive, gory-liscious and often almost poetically shot “kills” in this abattoir were my favorite parts of the whole thing. Say what you will about M Night, but when he’s “on” the man sure knows how to structure a “scare set piece” and here was no exception. The beats were on the ball, the tension thick and the unapologetic payoffs kicked some serious ass. I actually winced during a couple of scenes... and I don’t wince man (getting my VISA bill aside of course)!
Story wise, well for two thirds, the flick rolled out at a smoother than shaved twat's pace. I do think that your overall enjoyment of the picture will depend on if you buy into the “why” behind the tomfoolery. Don’t worry its not a “twist” a la usual Shyamalan, it just is. You go with it or you don’t. Luckily for me, I bought it, signed, sealed and spanked. It actually made total sense to me. It sure helped matters that in my everyday life when talking about “I can’t tell you to not spoil the why” with friends, I often spurt out what this film was basically saying. So there you have it. Tag to all that an infectious score by James Newton Howard, polished cinematography and on when they were on performances (more on that below) by the bulk of the cast and you get a decent macabre sit down.
With that urinated on keyboard, this celluloid F.T.W. was far from perfect. A lot of the dialogue and the deliveries by the actors often rang false. Mark Whalberg (whom I usually dig) just felt wrong for the first third of the film, fortunately he settled into the role half an hour in. And what was up with Zooey Deschanel here? For at least half the film, I felt like she was either on crack or from Zenu's volcano. Her performance choices were so oddball that it prevented me from giving a crap about her. Nice ass though. Which brings me to the relationship between our two leads which acted as the heart of the film. Didn’t feel it. It didn’t work. Walhberg and Deschanel had no chemistry together, no connection, cold was the word – too bad- was the result. Lastly, the whole lost its steam during its final act. The pace began to lag, we got a totally useless sequence with some “Granny from hell” and the flick didn't know when to end.
But overall, THE HAPPENING gave me enough creepiness, shocks and above the norm audio/visual stimulation for it to be worth my vacuous time. It had its faults yes, but it wasn’t the absolute mess that everybody is saying it is (in my trivial opinion of course). Is the Happening gonna happen for you? See it and find out!