Sunday, June 15, 2008

28 Days Lamer

In The Happening, something happens which causes people to start killing themselves. If you don't know what it is yet, I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that if there was a spontaneous, nationwide mass suicide, I would blame it on chronic viewing of this film.

Just kidding, it's not really that bad. In fact, I recommend watching the first ten minutes, then leaving the theater and thinking about how cool the rest of the movie must be. It starts out remarkably well, with some shocking deaths and impressive Tak Fujimoto visuals. There are even some tense moments dispersed throughout. The blame for The Happening's failings must be unfortunately placed squarely on the shoulders of M. Night. It's as if he forgot that films should have a progression and a payoff. I'm not saying I need some miraculous twist ending, but I do, as an engaged viewer, appreciate a little closure.


I also think Shyamalan is a bit confused about what kind of filmmaker he wants to be. Much of the film's themes take themselves very seriously and the horror sequences are intended to be genuinely scary. There are, however, some moments of comedy, many of them actually intentional! You might even be with the tone of this thing for the first hour. Just wait until you meet the old woman. I defy anyone to keep a straight face during her argument with Mark Wahlberg. Oh oh! Or during the ridiculous iPhone product placement.

What all this adds up to is a film that has some intriguing scenes and quite a bit of nonsense. It's not as bad as The Village, though neither are most hysterectomies. It equals Lady in the Water in terms of sheer pointlessness. Zooey Deschanel is cool, though. I'm tempted to give her a pass.

UPDATE: My brother has written a more in-depth and certainly more scathing review on Crushed by Inertia.

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