FRIDAY NIGHT/GREEN JEANS MOVIE REVIEW: “The Happening” stars Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Daddy’s Home), Zooey Deschanel ( Days of Summer, New Girl [TV series]), John Leguizamo (John Wick, Ice Age), Ashlyn Sanchez (Crash, Universal Signs), Betty Buckley (Split , Eight Is Enough [TV series]), Spencer Breslin (The Kid, The Cat in the Hat ), Robert Bailey Jr. (Coraline, Dragonfly), and Frank Collison (O Brother Where Art Though?, Silicon Valley [TV series]). It is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable). When a bizarre airborne virus begins killing many civilians in the North-East area of America, Elliot (Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Deschanel) try to escape it as well as figure out the root of the problem.
I think everyone who knows anything about “The Happening” knows where this review is headed. Yes, it’s a terrible film; one of the worst to come from the 2000’s, let alone M. Night Shyamalan’s career. Once you’re done reading this analysis, you’ll see the craptastic score that this thing is doomed to receive at the bottom, and there’s no way to make it unpredictable. So, instead of making this review a complete reiteration of what all critics have said, I want to tackle this film in a different light; one that concerns the director himself. After finishing this monstrosity of cinema, I found myself watching some special features that illustrated what it was like behind-the-scenes. Having been on film sets myself, I’m aware of how one operates (more or less when it comes to an actual Hollywood feature). However, I’m completely confused with how happy the set was. Besides hesitation from Wahlberg (poor guy), everyone was in the game, ecstatic by what they were creating. I’m sure anyone would be working on a picture with Shyamalan, but the director himself believed that what he was making was genius. This sent me down a rabbit hole in my mind. Never was this movie marketed as a joke, nor a tough project that Shyamalan fought the producers over. Everything was going according to plan, and Shyamalan was enjoying it. Why the heck would this man tarnish his career? By now, the man has finally made his return to form with his release of “Split,” but most of his career was plagued with terrible release after terrible release. He could’ve at least told the press that it was a parody of horror films that involved the paranormal; that would’ve made sense! But instead, we got a picture meant to be some magnificent piece of art that rivaled “Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable.” It’s intriguing to follow someone’s career. Everyone makes mistakes, and they typically involve miscalculations or poor taste in judgement. For a great director such as Shyamalan to invest in an idiotic idea such as this, writing, directing, and producing it, I wonder how he steered off the beaten path. Who forced him into this concept? Was he held at gunpoint? Did someone drug him everyday on set, or was he brainwashed? Maybe it was a favor, or money; money is often involved. For those who don’t know what “The Happening” is, think of a somber horror film where all the characters have the same facial expressions and deliver their lines as if they caught wiff of marijuana or a dog’s behind. All of which is accompanied by little to no music that makes everything anticlimactic. When someone is killed, Mark Wahlberg puts on that “who cut the cheese?” face, and Zooey Deschanel says something silly like “why would terrorists do this? Did someone they love eat dessert with someone else?” Rinse and repeat. With every line that was said and facial expression that was given an uber extreme close-up, I thought to myself “someone wrote that” or “someone shot that” and thought it was good. I could just see Shyamalan now, after the nursery owner character delivers the lines “we’re packing hot dogs for the road. You know, hot dogs get a bad rap,” smiling in his director’s chair thinking that this is brilliant. Everything you could think of went horribly wrong in this. The acting, the story, and the use of horrific images…everything just ended up silly! I laughed my butt off watching this, as did Captain Critic when he saw it with me. There’s not a single thing that is convincing, nor a plot device that works. The dialogue used wants you to care for everyone that walks by and the situation they are in, but I couldn’t help it; they were too useless that I could care less what happened to them. And nothing did happen to them. With a film called “The Happening,” you would think that something would happen to the main characters. At least that’s what I think the title suggests. To be honest, I have no idea why this movie is called “The Happening.” I guess Shyamalan couldn’t come up with a genius name for whatever the airborne was that made people crazy. Why would I see this if I knew it was terrible walking in? The same reason as any viewer who finds joy in seeing hilariously awful flicks: it’s fun. I enjoyed watching how terrible this feature was, and that doesn’t mean I’ll give it leeway for that sake. If you like watching horrific pieces of cinema, try this; you’ll surely love how garbage it is. Otherwise, steer clear. It is not worth your time nor three bucks at the Walmart value bin. FINAL SCORE: 16%= Burnt Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Burnt Hall of Shame.
Here is the trailer: