Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What's Happening?

Playing in the background: The soothing strains of the Intervention theme song
Meters swum today: 1700

We'll have to turn back, honey. It's the Union-Tribune film critic.

So I went to see The Happening, the new M. Night Shamajambalayashawarmarrrgh movie, on Saturday with a gang o'friends. It was my birthday party, sort of, a few days late. And in my newfound respect for the rest of the planet and my fervent desire not to be snarky, I'd just like to say that it wasn't that bad. It was pretty good, actually. Okay, the ending was kind of a mess, and a couple of times there were eye-rolling moments, but for the most part it was sharp, funny and (the prerequisite for any horror movie) very very scary.

If you're a fan of Doctor Who, you may have seen the episode "Blink", in which the bad guys (angel statues--don't ask) show up unexpectedly and you jump out of your seat and spill popcorn all over your stupid self. It's the only thing they do, but they do it so well. This is that same level of scary, but in The Happening, you don't even get to see the bad guys. In fact you aren't even sure there are bad guys. There's just this sinister something in the air that's causing people to drop dead. Literally. Out of windows. Off of construction scaffolds. From trees. (Especially, in one scary moment, from trees.) Is it a bioterrorist attack? Accidental radiation leakage? Some toxin released from a government lab called The Shop, somewhere in Colorado? (Oh, hi, Big Steve! I didn't know you read my blog! What? Lawsuit? Oh, right. Sorry...) Well, I'm not gonna tell you what it is, but one second you're walking down the street minding your own business and the next second you're, uh, dead. And it could happen anywhere. At any time. To anybody. Kind of like, oh, a bioterrorist attack.

Speaking of terrorist attacks, there's a lot of 9/11 in this movie. The construction workers falling from the scaffold, for one thing. Remember that video of the firefighters at Ground Zero, in the South Tower? And the loud thudding noises outside as another body fell, and everybody flinched? That's in there. The same thuds. The same you're-not-actually-getting-to-see-the-bodies-fall-but-you- don't-have-to-see-them-to-know-they're-falling sort of thing. And it starts in Central Park, in New York City. There's probably half a dozen more subreferences that I missed because I was watching the screen from between two fingers (Joan taught me this trick.) Somebody could probably do a master's thesis on that. The Day The Towers Fell: Imagery of 9/11 in the Filmmaking of M. Night Shamajambalayashawarmarrrgh. Sounds like a real page turner, doesn't it?

Anyway, yes, there were things wrong with it, and okay, this or that could have been tweaked to better effect, but I don't think the critics are being fair. Some of the stuff I've read about this movie reminds me of when The Sixth Sense first came out and the San Diego Union-Tribune critic, David Elliott, spent his whole piece arguing that Bruce Willis's character shouldn't have been up and around so soon after getting shot. (Course he also gave Braveheart) a half a star, and then it won Best Picture.) Anyway, I got what I paid for, or rather what Joan paid for; scared out of my shorts. Plus, I got to see a trailer for another movie that, if anything, looks scarier; Mirrors. Added bonus: I got Joan into a theater for an R-rated scary movie. This doesn't happen often. I'fact, this doesn't happen ever. I got away with this because I was the birthday girl. No doubt I'll be going to see Mirrors by my lonesome.

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