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"The Happening" Review

Thehappening1_large Oh, dear. What is happening is that the once lauded M. Night Shyamalan is spiraling downward. What is also happening is that despite the plummet towards the depths of "Oh my hell, REALLY?" people will continue to flock to the theaters to see his latest masterpiece because it is hard not to. It's not even like it's trainwreck quality ie so bad you can't look away, it's just that you feel compelled to find out the secret behind the phenomenon du jour. It's like what crazy thing has M. Night Shyamalan come up with this time? What trick or twist or in this case downright gruesome premise is he going to put forth on the big screen? The Happening is just that; downright gruesome, creepy at times with a an eye roll of a twist at the end.

Not going to lie but ever since Mark Wahlberg started becoming a 'serious' actor, I have to keep myself from humming "Good Vibrations" (feel it, feel it) whenever I see him on the screen. That said, he plays Eliot Moore, a high school science teacher married to Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel in all her quirky, odd ball but not meaning to be odd, glory), a woman who is becoming distant in their marriage. Eliot is teaching when something starts happening (cue spooky music). People in Central Park are suddenly afflicted by some THING that is causing them to become disoriented and suddenly suicidal. Note: If you think you might be sensitive to all the new and inventive ways that one can commit suicide then I would most definitely NOT recommend this movie. That said whatever it is that is happening is rolling through the East Coast first affecting large cities and then smaller and smaller communities, it rolls through like clouds before a thunderstorm, including gusts of wind that is helping to move whatever is in the air, up and down the coast. Because of the cataclysmic event, Eliot and Alma end up caring for the young daughter of Eliot's best friend, Julian (John Leguizamo) as they literally run from town to town in Pennsylvania (Shyamalan's state of choice) trying to outlast whatever it is that is happening: Either terrorists or a natural event. Either way, the signs were there and now it's happening (that from tagline).

Here's the thing; when you're trying not to laugh through very serious situations because the quotes are just so damn funny, you are trying to not cringe from the creativity of suicide. That's the part that got me, I mean I've learned to get through and accept shitty dialogue ("It makes you kill yourself. Just when you thought there couldn't be anymore evil that can be invented") but the suicide part? GAH! Also the playing off of actual fears and the general absurdity and did I mention the eye rolling?  This isn't for sensitive people and it isn't that it was so awful that I would never see another M. Night Shyamalan movie again but dude has gone generally downhill since The Sixth Sense. The movie just IS. And because I am a sucker for a potentially amazing plot twist, I haven't completely written Shyamalan off and he will always be lauded because he can and has proven to be brilliant but I really, really hope that it doesn't get much worse than this.







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Comments

Diane

Ack. Thanks for the warning. I was considering this, but as someone currently afflicted with pregnancy insomnia + nightmares, I think I'll pass for now.

helenel

What kind of poster is that? Danish? Swedish?

Barbara

I heard what the plot twist is and I was so irritated. Not at being told, because thanks to this person I won't waste $9 and 2 hours of my life on this stupid movie. And suicide? Really? What the hell is wrong with this guy's brain that makes him think coming up with creative ways of killing yourself is entertainment? I might be a tad touchy about that particular subject, but reading your review makes me feel a bit more mainstream in my feelings.

Anyway, M. Night is not my friend right now. I'm sure he cares.

NoPasaNada

Heh! No clue what it is. In fact I just now noticed that it isn't in English. Interesting. Actuall the poster in general isn't really representative of the movie anyway, so I have no clue why the studio decided to go with that.

Rich has a better photo on his review: http://fourfour.typepad.com/fourfour/2008/06/this-blows.html

Suzy Q

This is the second bad review I've read about this movie. It's looks good in the trailers, but thanks for saving me $.

JoyLynn

I saw a review on the television [maybe Ebert & Roeper?] that spoke highly of M. Night's desire to protray a new type of terror - but spoke of how horribly he failed at it.
Luckily, I got my hands on a screener copy so didn't have to spend money to watch it - because I was horribly disappointed [and generally I LOVE M. Night]

I thought Wahlberg's character was too wussy, Deschanel's too much of an oddball [and I LOVE her] - and the cause of 'the happening'? SNORE!

I agree, I really hope this is his low point.

BaltimoreGal

Damn. I love M. Knight's plot twists but as someone who barely tolerates Marky Mark (partly because he hates the name he GAVE HIMSELF) I will wait and see this on the Netflix.

sassystitcher

OK. I was excited to see what this was all about, despite watching The Village. I didn't hate this one; I was more in the "enh" group.

The previews here were making a ginormous deal of this being his first R-rated film. [SPOILER!] I'm pretty sure it was the point-blank range shotgunning of the two teens on the front porch. That made the mower incident seem tame to me. Ick.

The high points for me were when I giggled when Marky Mark said something about "good vibes" (because I'm just that mired in pop culture), the giggling I'm still doing thinking about the Robot Chicken thing with M. Night where everything has a twist, and the preview for the X-Files movie! That made me super happy.

So, yeah, save your money. Maybe go rent Unbreakable or Signs if you're feeling the M. Night calling.

PeaceLoveMath

(1) M Night hasn't gone downhill since 6th Sense, just since Unbreakable. Unbreakable, however, was at least as good as 6th Sense, and very likely even better in its subtlety, imho.

(2) What are you calling the "eye roll of a twist at the end" of The Happening? I didn't catch any real twists. Do you just mean the Paris thing? The fact that there WASN'T a twist set this movie apart for me, but I still disliked it intensely; my least favorite M Night so far, without a doubt.




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