The Happening

The Happening ★★★★

If The Village was an exploration of humans craving sanctuary but only restricting themselves further, then The Happening is a study of humans who are completely unrestricted - it just takes an apocalypse to free them. Whereas in Shyamalan's previous work there is a focus on humans getting over their misconceptions and prejudice through the power of love/faith/others, here nobody has any misconceptions or prejudice to get over as nobody knows what they believe, holding onto any shred of information thrown out by the media or by those around them. That's why the oft-maligned dialogue comes across so stilted to many: because everyone wants to believe what they say, but nobody knows what they're saying. There is an utter communicative breakdown and Shyamalan uses his camera to great effect in showing people fading into vast landscapes, or highlighting the places our characters find themselves by surveying their faces and reflecting landscape in the eyes. Everything is a reflection of internalization and misguided wisdom, so everybody is running but nobody knows where to. This is Shyamalan's most nihilistic film and I am continually drawn to it, bewildered by the artistry that so many have been unable to identify as The Happening is one of the few things that summarizes every philosophy and every personal belief I hold.

Shyamalan's work generally explores humanity infringing on nature, humans trying to become something more than they are, creating sanctuary away from the horrors of the world. In The Happening, there is no sanctuary from the horrors of the world because terror is existence and there is no way to outrun nature. This time, everything around us fights back (instead of vice versa)... one very clear message being sent to us: we are not welcome here. Environment disrupting human purity - faith, belief and science all rupture at once and all of a sudden human understanding (human construct) breaks down. There is a beautiful shot in here of the group staring at the sky hoping for an answer but there is none - there is no God, there is no 'belief'. There is only us. Us, and everything else. A film of paradoxes cataloging a finite number of infinities.

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