A Bewildering Misstep - "The Happening" Review

26 August 2023

"The Happening," directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is a perplexing entry in the director's filmography that leaves audiences more baffled than satisfied. Released in 2008 on the heels of Lady in the Water, this psychological thriller was highly anticipated, considering Shyamalan's reputation for creating suspenseful and thought-provoking films. However, "The Happening" falls short of expectations, struggling to deliver a cohesive narrative and failing to capitalize on its intriguing premise.

The film's premise revolves around a mysterious, global phenomenon where people begin to inexplicably commit mass suicides, with nature seemingly turning against humanity. While the initial setup holds promise, Shyamalan's execution falters in several crucial aspects. The pacing is uneven, with slow stretches that drain the suspense and prevent the tension from building effectively. The characters lack depth, making it difficult for the audience to connect or empathize with their struggles. Mark Wahlberg, playing the lead role of a science teacher, delivers a performance that feels disconnected and fails to anchor the film.

One of the most significant issues with "The Happening" lies in its dialogue and script. The dialogue often feels stilted and unnatural, leading to unintentional moments of humor that undermine the intended seriousness of the story. Additionally, the film's attempts at philosophical and existential themes come across as heavy-handed and pretentious, detracting from the overall experience rather than enhancing it.

the happening film review poster

Visually, the film features some striking shots of landscapes and nature, emphasizing the central concept of nature turning hostile. However, the visual elements alone are not enough to salvage the film's shortcomings. The use of practical effects and minimal CGI is commendable, but it can't make up for the lack of a compelling narrative.

Shyamalan is known for his twist endings, and "The Happening" attempts to deliver one as well. However, the twist lacks the impact and ingenuity of his earlier works like "The Sixth Sense" or "Unbreakable." Instead of a mind-bending revelation, the twist feels more like a desperate attempt to salvage an underdeveloped story, leaving audiences with a sense of disappointment rather than awe.

In conclusion, "The Happening" is a misstep in M. Night Shyamalan's filmography. While the premise held potential for a thought-provoking and suspenseful thriller, the execution falters on multiple fronts. From uneven pacing to underdeveloped characters and awkward dialogue, the film struggles to engage its audience effectively. While Shyamalan's signature style is still evident in some visual aspects, it's not enough to rescue the film from its narrative shortcomings. "The Happening" serves as a reminder that even talented filmmakers can produce disappointments, and it remains a forgettable entry in the thriller genre.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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