The best-kept secret of the year has to be M. Night Shyamalan’s latest offering The Happening, which the prolific film-maker of The Sixth Sense, The Village, and Signs wrote, produced, and directed. Talk about a triple threat.
But I am about to let the cat out of the proverbial bag – The Happening is the must-see movie of the year. A very bold statement considering the mammoth success of Iron Man and the upcoming Dark Knight, but the aforementioned films are comic-book-adaptations-cum-blockbusters designed to thrill and wow us while The Happening is built to stimulate the human mind.
I was lucky enough to witness the special screening of The Happening at GSC Mid Valley last night courtesy of Leonard, who in turn received the passes from an advertising firm. Judging from the earlier trailers of the movie, it had M. Night Shyamalan written all over it; little or nothing is exposed about the plot which leaves the movie shredded in mystery and intrigue.
I was ready to be entertained, but I got more than I bargained for as The Happening totally blew me away with a complex yet subtle storyline which led to a breathtaking cinematic experience! While considered short at over an hour and a half in duration, The Happening manages to grip viewers into a state of suspense and paranoia from the get-go as the Northeastern states of America are hit by a series of unexplainable events which leave the public dumbfounded.
The next few paragraphs will indeed offer some spoilers, so if you are opting to go catch the movie at a cinema near you, I advise you to stop here or The Happening will just not happen for you. Like every other clichéd storyline, it all starts in New York City, Central Park to be exact where people start killing themselves. Seriously, in an otherwise normal day, people start to commit suicide in the most gruesome ways ever, i.e. jumping off buildings, knocking into walls, hanging themselves.
We are then introduced to Elliot Moore, a high school teacher in Philadelphia, played by “Marky Mark” Mark Wahlberg of Funky Bunch fame (I watched THS: Mark Wahlberg on E! ok, so sue me!). Once the news spread about people killing themselves in New York, everyone is told to evacuate as the U.S. Government suggests that the killings are a biochemical terrorist attack. Elliot, his wife Alma, his colleague and best friend Julian, and Julian’s 8 year-old daughter Jess are forced to leave Philadelphia as more cities on the East Coast are affected and more people are dying.
From then on, it is a battle for survival as we witness more and more grotesque deaths with no signs of actually knowing what or who is behind the killings. Julian ill-fatedly decides to leave Jess with Elliot and Alma in order to search for his wife Evett who is in Princeton. As all horror movie buffs are well aware of, once you leave the main character, there is a high probability that you will not be alive to see the end credits, and that is exactly what happens to Julian. To all secondary characters, please do not leave the primary character if you know what is good for you.
Jokes aside, I believe the casting for this movie is inspired and spot-on as Wahlberg shines in his role as the brave and logical yet vulnerable Elliot while Zooey Deschanel plays the part of the dreamy and soft-spoken Alma to perfection as I could wander in her picturesque blue eyes for hours. Their on-screen likeability factor is undoubted as I was really hoping that they do not bite the dust like the rest of the sorry cast members.
Like every other enigmatically brilliant M. Night Shyamalan film, you are left to ponder the barrage of questions that are popping up in your head relentlessly as you leave the double doors of the theatre. Do not get me wrong, The Happening is not for everyone; if you are looking for a lackadaisical way to pass your time, then Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones should be your first choice, enjoyable to the core; however, if your aim is to put caution to the wind and treat your mind to a wondrous journey, then by all means, catch the next showing of The Happening.
The best movies are not the ones everyone starts gushing about once the theatre is emptied, marveling at the special effects and drooling over the cool action scenes; on the contrary, the best movies are those which keep you in silent contemplation in the urinal, wondering if The Happening will really happen in the near future.