The Happening

The Happening ★★★½

shyamalan’s romero film. it’s both thrilling and sad to see such an optimist develop this kind of mean streak—this is the first of his films in which his sense of humour (that felt sort of innocent and hopeful in signs and lady in the water) feels like a sick joke on the characters, as well as the first one where the internal conflict over faith in humanity is felt behind the camera as much as in front of it, and can you blame him? in spite of his surprising penchant for sadism (shyamalan’s subtle long takes are given a newfound urgency in the hands of tak fujimoto, possibly the dp most suited to his ticks and flourishes) and in spite of the ending’s apparent doom, this is still the work of someone who truly cares about people. he constantly affords moments of humanity and empathy to seemingly superfluous characters, choosing to believe in love in the face of dread—although it’s clear that he’s hurt, and more than a little shaken, by what he sees us doing in the word.

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