Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Happening (2008) Film Review

Plot Summary - Sci-fi thriller, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The story begins one morning in New York City's Central Park where a strange occurrence takes place - most of the people are frozen in their paths, some of the people are harming themselves. Soon this is spreading through NYC and across the Northeast United States - a chemical toxin is being released into the air that causes humans to kill themselves. In Philadelphia, the main character, a science teacher (Mark Wahlberg), and his wife (Zooey Deschanel) get on a train to get the heck out of Dodge before the chemical hits their city - but the train ends up stopped in a small town in Pennsylvania, leaving all the passengers to fend on their own. Now groups of people try to find isolated areas to escape to before it's too late. The mystery of the toxin haunts everyone - is it terrorism, some sort of environmental oddity that is happening around them - or what?!

Review - The story, somewhat implausible - but the film is very stylishly done with fluid camerawork that gave me a feeling of nearness by the mysterious unknown toxin that you can't see, but that moves quietly through the air. Windy fields and trees tracked at rapid pace by the camera, sky full of scudding clouds, hand-held camera moving up, around, and through groups of people, lots of extreme facial close-ups - all very atmospheric. I gave a bit of a pause before deciding to rent this one from Netflix, as I saw some pretty negative ratings popping up for this. But I have enjoyed other films made by Shyamalan, and I am kind of a sucker for science fiction. I actually thought this one was pretty good, it held my interest, went by fast (meaning I wasn't bored), and I really liked the look and feel of it. A flaw I could mention - though this is a thriller, I didn't find the film particularly scary or feel as much tension as you would hope for in a film such as this, but it is a film that gets you thinking. Rating - 7 to 8/10 stars

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