Here is a piece that I originally penned for M.Night Fans, an online fan community dedicated to M.Night Shyamalan and his work. What I'm trying to convey here is why The Happening isn't really one of the worst films.
Back in 2008, some folks instantly began penning their scathing reviews of the film, and majority of the reviews, as it's clear, were mainly published to simply take on the writer/director M.Night Shyamalan. I, honestly, don't remember reading anything agile, something written intelligently to decipher what Mr. Shyamalan was trying to convey with his film. Back and forth, what I read instead and what I still read is that it's a nonsensical picture with terrible performances.
Film-makers, those who also write their films, tend to spend majority of their time studying the subject matter of their project, especially when one is tackling politics, science, global warming, the list goes on. Obviously, I'm talking about good film-makers. Mr. Shyamalan is tackling something important with his film, and he has the subject matter right on the palm of his hand, to simply incorporate it into a B-movie structure.
The Happening isn't without the obvious flaws, though. Some of the rushed out scenes are to blame and also the pacing at times. But I have seen the film over and over. And, to be honest, after each viewing, I find something fresh and original to think about and this is the case with all Shyamalan's films, which is one of the reasons I adore his work. His films, the plot of each, in its entirety, at all times come with point of views that I always find entertaining and engaging for the mind, if one decides to look at them a little more closely.
"Too uneventful for you? Not enough action? For me, Shyamalan’s approach is more effective than smash-and-grab plot-mongering. His use of the landscape is disturbingly effective."
"Like a lot of Shyamalan’s work, “The Happening” is reminiscent of an extended episode of the classic “Twilight Zone” series. It’s often more about how people react to a threat they don’t understand, than the threat itself."
The film's own surface explains less to the viewer its infra-narrative and what Mr. Shyamalan is attempting to convey to the viewers.
- Who are they running from?
- Why are humans committing suicide?
The answers behind the two questions above are perhaps to comprehend that a good film shouldn't be blamed as a bad one.
The following article isn't a recent publish; it was first surfaced online on June 2008, the same month when The Happening was released in theaters. The article, by Scientific American, is actually an interview with Mr. Shyamalan, conducted by George Musser, editor of the respective magazine. It is an intelligent conversation as the two dives in-depth to discuss not just the film, but science as well.
On Limits of Science:
The thing is, you know, we have only our own invented categories, in which we’re suggesting, and so we say okay, this thing that we’re looking at, which of the eight categories or however many number we call that, you know, does it fit in, you know? And the things that don’t quite fit in, we shove into something. We’re inventing those categories. It is very, very limited, I mean, it’s also like, you know, psychologically if you’re looking for something in your data, you’ll see it, you know, so you’re like doing an experiment, you’re looking for reproduction patterns, and then you go, “Oh! There it is, I see it.” - Shyamalan
Somebody's Act of Nature. (Is it beyond our capacity to explain?):
It’ll either get thrown into some tenuous explanation or it will be thrown into the pile of the placebo effect. Okay. It’s a fact, but we’ve no idea. We’re just going to pretend about that one. There was another one I was just thinking of as we spoke up. Oh! You know, how animals like that, when the tsunami came, the animals all ran. That was the tsunami; that is sensing it happening. So, what is it that’s in their primitive, we’ll call it primitive, you know, biological makeup that we’ve forgotten? - Shyamalan
So, if a B-movie like The Happening, offers an imaginative subject to be discussed and understood, why is it not fully understood? Why is it that we forget or ignore its important subject matter? And, the last question is why are some so used to just watch and never truly see and listen? The thought of it scares me to be honest.
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