The Happening

The Happening

There’s a knowing, 50s-esque sensibility in the offbeat humor and wide-eyed, earnest performances (e.g. the peculiar horticulturist) that’s easy to read as inept or miscalculated. Guess that’s why everyone shit their pants and called this the worst movie ever made. To the credit of its detractors, Wahlberg isn’t right for the material and Zooey Deschanel gives probably the worst performance in a Shyamalan film. But the idea that this is some nadir of auteurist pop filmmaking is not only wrong but downright weird. How anyone could watch this and not take something away is wild to me. The most chilling images here stem not from whatever inscrutable menace is wreaking havoc along the eastern coast but the erratic, irrational responses from people who live out in bumfuck nowhere — some country dullard sticking a shotgun through the door and massacring two teenage boys, an almost demonic spinster assuming the worst in our characters. It’s lame and trite to praise a misunderstood movie for its prescience but it must be said how eerily The Happening aligns with our growing fears of environmental catastrophe and unexplainable, fringe behavior. Shyamalan’s ripest for reassessment.

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