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Journal Anti-Trend's Journal: The Happening: a look into the mind of Shyamalan

In M. Night Shyamalan films, there is supposedly always some trademark plot twist for which he is now so well known. The credits still rolled dutifully by on the screen as I walked from the theater into the stark brightness of the lobby. That's when I had my very own twist; I came to really understand the drive and vision of Mr. Shyamalan.

People think he's about twists, but I would suggest to you that he's not. Instead, I'd have you believe that these gimmicks are actually incidental. That in fact what he's about are realizations. The story, the characters, the plot, the theme -- these things do not matter to him at all. Rather, it's the act of his characters coming to an epiphany. Everything else is disposable.

The glaring problem in all this is that those of us with even a basic measure of intelligence and the capacity for abstract thought usually have these moments of clarity about an hour in advance of the protagonists. Thus we cruise through the entire second half of the movie, which comes across to us as a total failure. The ironic thing is that in his misguided quest to show us other people's awakenings, he himself completely fails to perceive that it's not just about the protagonists. Giving away too much information at the wrong time or too little, and you lose the most important element in a story -- the audience. We are in fact the central-most thread of the story. We have to believe what the characters are experiencing, and feel some sort of pathos about it. That's why we still read Homer and Shakespeare after so many centuries. Story. Plot. Characters. These things touch us, carry us forward, bring us to a point where we care about these people and their circumstances, and we want to see their tales carried through to completion. Even relive them again and again.

What we have with Shyamalan is a would-be storyteller who has not even the most basic idea of what a story is or how to involve the audience once again, as he did with The Sixth Sense. Whether he got lucky with that film or has since lost his vision is debatable. In light of "The Happening", I would say it's most likely to be the former. In conclusion, if you want two hours of pretentious fluff with no content and no storyline, by all means, go and watch "The Happening". I for one will be sitting out the next movie with the words "M. Night" attached to the bill.

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The Happening: a look into the mind of Shyamalan

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