the fresh films reviews

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The Happening (2008)

M. Night Shyamalan
The Happening
91 minutes
Barry Mendel
Sam Mercer
M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan

Cast includes:

Elliot Moore Mark Wahlberg
Alma Moore Zooey Deschanel
Julian John Leguizamo
Jess Ashlyn Sanchez
Mrs. Jones Betty Buckley
Josh Spencer Breslin
Jared Robert Bailey Jr.
Nursery Owner Frank Collison
Principal Alan Ruck



At the start of his career, M. Night Shyamalan could do nothing wrong. His three first films, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs where groundbreaking, trendsetting chillers of immaculate cinematic brilliance. His best achievement was how he always was able to create characteristic, chilling atmospheres. In a time dominated by a surplus of mechanical, unremarkable horror in which uncreative writers and directors rely on sound effects for scares, Shyamalan was a breath of fresh air. His wildly disappointing Lady in the Water two years ago was arguably the first time the director wasn't able to create his trademark horror ambience. With The Happening, he proves that he still has the touch.

That being said, The Happening has inherited some of Lady in the Water's weaknesses. The difference is that they are less of a problem for the overall effect this time. The acting is uneven to say the least, and when Shyamalan sticks his camera in the performers' faces for lengthy dramatic effect, it can be hard to take him seriously. There is often a whiff of self-importance in the works of Shyamalan a quality which gives The Happening a classic B-movie feel but what a B-movie is has become! I'm quite certain Tarantino would have loved the tone created here, as we are presented one of the eeriest thriller premises since... well, since Shyamalan was last in this kind of form. The narrative structure is reminiscent of last year's I Am Legend, but I have no trouble enjoying such spine-chilling, delicately apocalyptic stories two years in a row. Whether or not a film like this is scientifically accurate is of less importance; what matters is that it's able to present itself as relevant. And even if The Happening hasn't quite got the class of Francis Lawrence's film, it matches it on tension and suspense.

Copyright 14.7.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang