People say that M. Night Shyamlan is the David Blaine of filmmaking, a man with parlor tricks and elaborate illusions of creativity and imagination but I dismiss those claims and still stand by M. Night proclaiming him one of the better storytellers of modern film. Sure, there could be other horror films out there, but in a year generally devoid of horror only with remakes and quasi-horror in theaters and on home video I say that M. Night’s dabbling in the R rated arena was an utter win.
It’s always been said that an animal always knows when it’s about to die. And sometimes even humans can. So… are these apocalypse movies merely our perpetual fear of impending doom brought on by forces of nature? Or do we know something that we’re not yet willing to admit? Frankly, it’s nearly impossible for me to not enjoy a movie about the end of humanity (or civilization for that matter), so “The Happening” was an instant win. Pair that with the great cast, the brilliant story, and the taut ecological commentary brushed under the senseless sudden self-extermination of man kind and you have what I consider one of the finest movies of 2008.
M. Night Shyamalan is nothing if not ambitious; I mean he creates films like a child seeking to spin his own stories in his own universe that could form a canon for aspiring filmmakers to launch from, and his vision gets in the way of his film and his fairy tale spins on its own while the film struggles to keep up. I enjoyed most of the fairy tale Shyamalan invents here involving a creature that can camouflage as grass, a mermaid, a giant eagle, and monkeys. If you’re wondering about his famous and infamous surprise ending, there isn’t one. There’s just one plot twist that’s interesting, and that’s all, so I won’t ruin much here. Continue reading
This is, to put it plainly, my current favorite film of all time.
Let me count the ways:
Cinematography. It’s experimental without being art kitschy. If there’s one thing that M. Night seems to get, it’s a good director of photography. The man knows how to frame a scene. A lot of that, I assume, is just like writing a book. Practice. And M. Night, judging from the early age at which he started making films, has a lot of practice. There are a number of angles in this film that just stick with you. The scene in the train from the perspective of the child. The scene from above the weights, giving the audience weight on the main character. The scene in the rapist’s home where you see the rapist suddenly appear. Willis in frame in his Security Outfit, as superhero as a superhero movie gets.
After lots of cryptic movie posters all over the walls in theaters, posters that showed two hands holding a letter, posters that wouldn’t tell a thing to the casual movie-goer, after cryptic television teasers, commercials that gave nothing away but still kept audiences shocked with its atmosphere induced images, and after a really cheesy really bad mock-documentary exploring the “The Buried Secrets of M. Night Shyamalan” which ended up being nothing than a promotional program , director M. Night Shyamalan has again kept audiences wondering, has kept the media guessing, and has kept critics talking.
In director M. Night Shyamalan’s third directorial outing in the supernatural genre, he tells the story of Father Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), an ex-preacher whose lost his faith in god and quit the church, living in seclusion with his two kids and brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) raising crops and living a generally quiet life. One fate-filled morning, Graham’s son Cole (Rory Culkin) discovers their crops in which they raise have been lowered into the forms of mysterious signs known as crop circles. What ensues is the psychological and emotional horror that will test Graham’s faith and devotion to god and his family. Are the crop circles signs from god, signals from aliens, or do they signal the coming of the apocalypse?
This was a sleeper hit when it first premiered; not overly advertised but still made an impact at the box-office. The plot is very original and one of a kind considering the tripe that was released at the time this was. Newcomer Haley Joel Osment gives an unbelievable performance as Cole giving all the wide-eyed enthusiasm and innocence of a kid while also being able to display a terrifying presence when he experiences these horrifying scenes in which he learns his gift. He often seems so vulnerable and terrified in this, that you instantly feel for him. I think the movie is symbolic on how a young innocent boy can tend to experience the horrors of the world at an early age, as does Osment’s character as he rapidly loses his innocence in the movie make a character transition towards the end, better understanding what he was meant to be.