Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Film Review: THE HAPPENING (2008)

Writer/Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Running time: 86 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

Watched on DVD Wednesday 19th August 2009.


I’ll admit to being a bit of a fan of some of M. Night Shyamalan’s work, in particular The Village (2004), Unbreakable (2000) and The Sixth Sense (1999). Unfortunately, I found ‘The Happening’ a bit of a disappointment. It’s almost like he’s trying a bit too hard to make a film in the style of Alfred Hitchcock. I may be wrong, but that’s the impression I get. The concept of the story is fine, it’s just the execution seems, for me, a bit lacking somehow.

Elliot Moore is a science teacher in Philadelphia who has to leave town suddenly when people begin to mysteriously kill themselves. With him is his wife, Alma, his friend and colleague, Julian and Julian’s daughter, Jess. They take a train heading out of the city only to be abandoned in a small town when the train operators lose contact with everyone. Julian decides to go back to Philadelphia to find his wife, leaving Jess with Elliot and Alma. The three hitch a ride with some locals, but have trouble finding a way out of the affected area because at every turn, it seems, there are bodies in the way. Can the find a way out and, more importantly, what’s causing everyone to kill themselves?

Quite a tense thriller, but as I said at the beginning, it seems somewhat lacking. Decent performances from Mark Wahlberg as Elliot, Zooey Deschanel as Alma and John Leguizamo as Julian. I thought the best performance came from the young actress Ashlyn Sanchez as Jess. There are a few gory scenes, but over all it’s a bit of a miss in my book. A good way to kill an hour and a half… if you have it to kill, but otherwise you may want to avoid this one. We can but hope M Night Shyamalan’s next effort is much better.

My score: 5/10

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