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The Happening

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"M. Night Shyamalan's first R-rated movie? Ooh, and it looks truly scary," I remember gasping when The Happening came out. But friends who got in on the sold-out opening night relayed it was one of the worst movies they'd ever seen. So what gives? Well, either Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) is a genius director and his viewers are idiots, or he truly delivered a bomb.

New York City is the first of many East Coast hubs that falls victim to what seems to be a terrorist gas attack that causes humans to kill themselves. High school science teacher Elliott Moore (Mark Wahlberg, The Italian Job) and his girlfriend Alma (Zooey Deschanel, Elf) join a city-wide Philadelphia exodus, but what's causing the deaths is quickly spreading and perhaps not a terrorist attack at all.

The movie is full of overacting—and it's intentional, no doubt about it. I've heard some critics say the film is a sort of satire of American culture, and I can vaguely perceive that in the film, but for the most part it just seems hokey. In a DVD interview, Shyamalan says the film is supposed to be a B-movie, but I've seen B-movies (Army of Darkness, anyone?), and this one doesn't really fit the mold.

Though the previews, and even some of the in-film buildups, appear frightening, there are really no scares and audiences are left to wonder, "What, exactly, was M. Night going for?" Sadly, I can't tell you; and unless you are psychic, you, too, may wind up disappointed.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.