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    Wednesday, 18 June 2008

    What the f**k is (The) Happening?

    Tonight's Tight Arse Tuesday viewing was M. Night Shyamalan's latest homage to Hitchcock, "The Happening". I won't bore you (or myself) with plot or full cast details as I'm sure you can probably find out for yourself, or you already know. If not, Wikipedia (The Oracle) has the answers.

    'The Happening' left me thinking. Unfortunately, it did not leave me thinking about things like, "Oh my god, what are we doing to our planet?" or "Truly, we must treat our friends, the trees, more respectfully." or even, "Wow, in our great hubris we have destroyed nature, it's only fair that it return the favour." This is a shame for two reasons: 1) Because I believe these are the things Mr. Shyamalan probably wanted me to take from the movie; and, 2) They are undoubtedly important lessons to learn.

    What the movie actually left me thinking was, "What the hell happened to M. Night?" His first movie, 'The Sixth Sense' stands as one of my favourite movies of all time. It is scary, thought-provoking, interesting and consistently tense. As someone who dreams of being a full-time screenwriter sometime in the future, this is a screenplay I could only dream of writing. The idea and the execution of it were immaculate.

    By contrast, 'The Happening' is none of those things. Well, okay, that's probably slightly harsh. It does have some atmospheric scenes (the first 3 minutes are genuinely disturbing), as well as one or two other moments of glory (Mark Whalberg's story about the girl in the pharmacy) but overall, the movie is terrible.

    One of the first rules of good movie writing, so I am reliably told is "Show, don't tell." Shyamalan appears to have forgotten this rule when writing 'The Happening'. His characters say, "I'm frightened" when they are frightened. They say, "I want to be with you" when they want to be with you. Well, not you personally but you get the point. One of the supporting characters even says at one stage, "He's very resourceful, isn't he?" to the female love interest (Zooey Deschanel, phoning it in) about Marky Mark. At this point, thankfully, M. Night shows us that yes indeed, Marky Mark IS resourceful.

    The end result is a potentially interesting concept with a smattering of suspenseful scenes that is let down by the execution in almost all departments. Simplistic writing, lazy directing and very average acting all combine to leave a very poor taste in my mouth. Obviously I can't speak for everyone who might go and see this movie but certainly the two friends who were unfortunate enough to share the journey with me, T and D, shared my feelings.

    M. Night, what's changed? What happened to you? If his latest movie is any indication, he has no idea either...

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