Shyamalan explains The Happening
M. Night Shyamalan has been talking about the inspiration behind his films and how he wrote The Happening, how he thinks it's going to make you feel, and perhaps most interesting he reveals how audiences have been reacting in some of the test screenings.
So there have been test screenings, and Shyamalan seems confident about the film as a whole. Still, he's got to be feeling the pressure of expectation and the heavy penned and fingered critics.
To add to that I'm going to pass onto you a clip from The Happening with M. Night Shyamalan doing a short introduction that covers some similar ground to the above clip, but there's some interesting new comments and comparisons, and his excitement for the film and the idea are so palatable. You can see this introduction and clip in Windows Media Player and in Quicktime.
This is well worth a watch, and I'm definitely getting excited for the film, even with Mark Wahlberg doing that weird high pitched questioning with his voice. I'm not sure it's up and down watching the trailer and clips, sometimes he's fine and other times it feels like he's overacting big style.
Despite these moments I still think that this is going to be a powerful and frightening film, and one I'm definitely not going to miss. I'm not one for the Shyamalan negativity that seems to go on almost as soon as he's talking about a new project - you can see more of that subject right here where Shyamalan talks about how that twist ending is plaguing his career - just looking at the footage here and reading about it though
Just as a reminder, here's the red band trailer for you so you can be reminded about how R-rated this is going to be.
Finally I've got an interesting write up about the film with some very good comments from Shyamalan about various aspects of the film, here's the introduction to give you an idea for the film once again.
From director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) comes a lightning-paced, heart-pounding paranoid thriller about a family on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable event that threatens not only humankind . . . but the most basic human instinct of them all: survival.
It begins with no clear warning. It seems to come out of nowhere. In a matter of minutes, episodes of strange, chilling deaths that defy reason and boggle the mind in their shocking destructiveness, erupt in major American cities. What is causing this sudden, total breakdown of human behavior? Is it some kind of new terrorist attack, an experiment gone wrong, a diabolical toxic weapon, an out-of-control virus? Is it being transmitted by air, by water . . . how?
For Philadelphia high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Academy Award® nominee MARK WAHLBERG) what matters most is finding a way to escape the mysterious and deadly phenomenon. Though he and his wife Alma (ZOOEY DESCHANEL) are in the midst of a marital crisis, they hit the road, first by train, then by car, with Elliot's math teacher friend Julian (Emmy® Award winner JOHN LEGUIZAMO) and his 8 year-old daughter Jess (ASHLYN SANCHEZ), heading for the Pennsylvania farmlands where they hope they'll be out of reach of the grisly, ever-growing attacks. Yet it soon becomes clear that no one - and nowhere - is safe. This terrifying, invisible killer cannot be outrun. It is only when Elliot begins to discover the true nature of what is lurking out there - and just what has unleashed this force that threatens the future of humanity -- that he discovers a sliver of hope that his fragile family might be able to escape what is happening.
Further on in the piece we get some idea of the some of the influences behind the film:
The initial draft of Shyamalan's screenplay was already quite intense, but when Twentieth Century Fox came on board, the studio suggested that Shyamalan might push the story even further, that he could approach it as an R-rated movie and take it to extremes of tension and terror where he'd not yet ventured. Shyamalan was surprised, but excited by the freedom this suggestion brought to let his imagination run even wilder. "When I thought about it, I thought this is really the way to make this story, because it is already a story all about taboos. I mean if you had tried to make THE EXORCIST as a PG-13 movie, it would be hard to imagine," he muses...
...Shyamalan envisioned creating a contemporary twist on the Cold War paranoia thrillers of the 1950s and 60s - movies that entertained and raised the anxiety meter with a spine-tingling sense of imminent doom and yet, beneath their roiling surfaces, subtly questioned the sanity of modern society's direction. From the vengeful crows of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to the atomic-created Godzilla and the aggressive, plant-like pods of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, many of these classic tales of suspense played like horror movies, yet also left audiences reeling with the sense of a brave new world in which the earth might go on but the human species might not make it.
Shyamalan knew that, as with all these movies, the driving force of THE HAPPENING would be an all-pervasive sense of uncertainty and fear. But he went a step further to contemplate the most unthinkable kind of demise for humankind. “I think what’s really scary in THE HAPPENING is that people start acting in the opposite way of how they are supposed to act. Unexplainable behavior is always very disturbing and there’s a lot of taboo behavior in this story,” he explains. “After all, what is the one thing that keeps a species going – it’s the instinct to stay away from harmful things, to protect ourselves and each other. But if you take away that instinct what happens? Things will turn upside down very, very quickly.”
...“I wanted a very naturalistic thriller style, very clean, almost Old School, going back to before we had all these gadgets and computers, when it was all about direct, resonant storytelling...We talked about looking at how we would make the movie if we didn’t have all these new tools and about how to really make it feel like a 2008 version of a 1950s paranoia movie.”...
...After production, Shyamalan turned his focus towards working with editor Conrad Buff, who previously won the Academy Award for Titanic. Together, the two men worked to fulfill Shyamalan’s original vision: to strip the film down to its bones, keeping it fast-paced and lean. “I kept saying to him, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers was 81 minutes, just 81 minutes!” he recalls. “That was our inspiration.”
It does sound that The Happening is going to be a much less complex story with a fast pace racing towards a dramatic conclusion, the problem is will the audience be allowed to let go of the hype and desire for a twist ending long enough to get seated and enjoy it?