After seeing so much bad press on M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, I was beginning to get ready to not see it, to let it wait until DVD as I ended up doing with Lady in the Water (which was every bit as hokey as people said it would be).
In this case, the New York Times was just positive enough to keep me in my Shyamalan == opening weekend pattern, and I’m glad of it. I actually enjoyed the film. I did have my doubts about some of Shyamalan’s choices, and in the end the whole thing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But some of the images Shyamalan put together in the film were genuinely, arrestingly creepy — I will probably remember the scene in Princeton for a long, long time. Finally, the conceit as a whole is, I have to say, strikingly original.
If you generally like Shyamlan, don’t let the reviewers’ piranha-like viciousness keep you away (especially since that viciousness is so easy: quite a number of people seem to be using the ready-made zinger, “‘The Happening’ Is Not Happening”). On the other hand if you hated Signs and The Village, you’ll probably hate this too.
I’m sure readers will have their opinions, and not all will be positive. Fire away (try to avoid spoilers, please).
Finally, the obligatory desi tidbit: The Happening was 50% financed by an Indian company, UTV. Though The Happening is not going to make anything like the kind of money Shyamalan made with his first three big films, it apparently has exceeded opening weekend expectations, despite the horrendous press. Which means, UTV and Fox will likely make their money back. Which means… Manoj Shyamalan probably isn’t going anywhere.
Trivia: Did you know that Shyamalan just came up with the middle name “Night” around the time he applied for college?
The application wanted a middle initial, and he went with “N.” Gogol, all over again.