I finally saw The Happening over the weekend and it left me wondering: What is all the bitching about? Could it be, gods forbid, that Phil Gramm is right? (Okay, I just slapped myself for that one.)
Seriously, I thought it was a good movie. It’s not a GREAT movie, but it’s good. It’s suitably intense and horrifying. SPOILER ALERT! I’m about to give away the whole movie, so do not read any further unless you REALLY want to know! If you still want to see the movie, I can recommend it with a clear artistic conscience. Just don’t read any further.
I’ve heard people all over the place saying with mock horror things like: “Ooooo . . . it’s the scary plants!” or “Oh my god, the grass is attacking! Run for your life!” Come on, people. No one had a problem with the man-eating vines in The Ruins. There is certainly cinematic historical precedent for plants that kill: When I was a kid, Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) scared the fungus out of me and my little bro! 1963 was clearly a landmark year for killer plants—it also gave us Day of the Triffids, which I still hear people talk about. And how many versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers are there? Off the top of my head, I can count four! And when that tree crashed through the window and grabbed up Carol Anne's brother in Poltergeist, don't tell me you didn't scream like a little girl. So, WHY do so many people have a problem with these killer plants? Personally, I think these folks are in denial.
Mushroom people and pods from outer space just aren’t that believable, now, are they? But an ecological event of the type shown in the movie? That’s believable. It or something very similar really could happen. Life forms on this planet do adapt; they evolve in response to their survival instinct, survival being a key word there. Considering how abusive we have been and still are to the planet and its other inhabitants, we probably should be scared. To slightly alter some consumer manipulation from the distant past: “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature!”
Believable stuff is just plain scarier than the unbelievable. Hence the need for mockery. It’s hiding the real fear.
Armchair critics everywhere (except me) are also complaining about Mark Wahlberg’s performance. I thought his performance was more than acceptable. I think the problem is that we’re all used to seeing our Markie Mark as a tough guy, a cool guy, but in this film he’s, dare I say it, a science nerd. The public has apparently typecast Wahlberg and won’t be happy unless he’s shooting someone or blowing up something or doing something with his shirt off. Come on, let the guy stretch a little! He’s probably capable of so much more.
I do have to admit, though, that Zooey Deschanel’s performance was a little on the weird side. I mean more weird than usual.
Anyway, M. Night Shyamalan, I still love you, dude! Don’t mind all the whiners out there. They’re really just scaredy-cats.
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