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March 5, 2021
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The Happening
(2008-06-19)
(wgvu) - It's a beautiful sunny day in New York City's Central Park, with people walking, jogging, and lounging. Suddenly a distant scream is heard. People begin muttering incoherently. And then commit suicide. Whatever is making this happen moves into the city. Policemen take out their firearms and shoot themselves in the head. Men leap from buildings. Women pull out knitting needles and stab themselves, mass suicides in the Big Apple. Authorities suspect terrorism. Crowds begin moving out of urban areas across the East Coast. Philadelphia science teacher Elliot Moore, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his wife Alma, played by Zooey Deschanel, take a train out of their city. With them are Elliot's friend, Julian, played by John Leguizamo, and his daughter Jess. Julian's wife stayed behind, planning on taking a later train. People on the train suddenly hear disturbing news. (clip 1) Suddenly the train stops, adding to the passengers' confusion and anxiety. (clip 2) Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening is much like his earlier films, The Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable, except that it's no good. There is a mannered quality to the film, like a big screen pastiche of a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode. It also steals from Spielberg's version of War of the Worlds, with its masses of people moving across the country side. The scenes that happen at remote farmhouses also look plucked from that movie. The dialogue is stilted and clunky. The performances are grad-C, even from exceptional talents like Leguizamo and Betty Buckley, who appears late in the film as a cranky, old recluse. Shyamalan exhibits all of the traits of a true cinematic auteur over the course of his movies. But after Signs, The Village, and especially Lady in the Water, it's obvious that's not necessarily good. Why do people keep giving this guy money to make movies? © Copyright 2021, wgvu