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Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Fox Home Video 2008
The Happening is one hell of a great thriller. M. Night Shyamalan never impressed me before but he certainly does with this end is nigh DVD. Most impressive about The Happening is all the tension comes from the characters and the story. There are no big special effects or CGI moments like in Day After Tomorrow, perhaps the closest comparable to this movie.
In New York’s Central Park, a mysterious something is making people kill themselves. This whatever starts spreading all over the east coast of the United States before targeting cities and then smaller and smaller towns. High school science teacher Elliott Moore (Wahlberg), his math teacher pal and his daughter, and his secret-bearing wife (Zooey Deschanel) try to flee this oncoming disaster without any knowledge of what it is or how to stop it.
That The Happening works so well is somewhat surprising considering there is only one really grandiose moment and it is right at the beginning of this thriller. Everything else is people fleeing and trying to understand what is going on.
Night Shyamalan does have fun from time to time such as a scene where Elliott and his group find refuge in a fancy home and he does give a wink to the standard horror movie near the end when the hero and his group find refuge in what they think is an abandoned farmhouse.
Another director would have exaggerated these moments or they would have stood out as sore thumbs but they really are part and parcel in The Happening.
There are a couple of gory scenes, only one of which is a bit much and useless. People who do not like gory movies will enjoy The Happening even if they cover their eyes for a few brief seconds.
This movie rocks.
There are some 60 minutes of special features on this DVD. They include a behind the scene short, A Day for Night where the camera follows Shyamalan for a day, Elements of a Scene a short about setting up a scene, a Making of documentary, Deleted scenes, and a gag reel.