Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Happening: Happening Now at a Theater Near You.

Have you heard of M. Night Shyamalan? He's a brilliant young director who many have hailed as the "New Alfred Hitchcock." I don't think anyone believes that moniker any more than he does, and this movie almost comes across as a business card with "The New Alfred Hitchcock" emblazoned across the top of it.

I guess it doesn't outright rip off movies like "The Birds" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", but if you've ever seen those movies and their ilk, this one will feel awwwwwwfully familiar to you.

That's not a bad thing. It's kind of nice to watch a creepy, End-of-the-World-as-We-Know-It movie every so often. They don't make enough of those anymore. Horror has been abdicated to the cliche' in recent years. It used to be the launching pad for new talent; now it's the cemetery for has-been Big name stars. It seems that every single film takes place in the dead of night, in a darkened house, with someone sneaking up behind someone else at some point in the film, and some creepy, jerky, twisted-human-form special effects thrown in. Yaaaaaaaaaaawn.... is that really scaring anyone anymore?

This one takes place in the bright, glaring sunlight, from beginning to end, and while I hesitate in calling it "original", I don't in calling it "skillful". It's not easy to scare an audience in broad daylight, but he does it. He does, however, resort to some in-your-face shocking moments to put fear into your heart, and that was somewhat of a disappointment to me. It almost seems like cheating.

So if you have a strong stomach and you like to be creeped out, and especially if you're a fan of his earlier films, go ahead and see this one. You're more likely than not to enjoy it. I give it a 6 out of 10.

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