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Overall Rating
1.93

Awesome: 2.35%
Worth A Look: 7.06%
Average: 14.12%
Pretty Bad: 34.12%
Total Crap42.35%

5 reviews, 55 user ratings


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Happening, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"The End Of M. Night Is Happening. Thank Christ!"
1 stars

While Uwe Boll deservedly gets bashed for his incompetent filmmaking skills and even has a well-signed petition against him to never make another movie again (which he has agreed to if it reaches a million signatures), isn’t it about time one was started for M. Night Shyamalan? Hang on to all that Sixth Sense love you want, defend Signs despite your loathing of the final act, go contrarian and hop on the Unbreakable train – films which showed a minimalist, Ny-Quil approach to directing and a complete ineptness in the writing. Those who see past his one-note tricks and pomposity for self-aggrandization find themselves in a very small gathering when trying to defend the trainwreck that was The Village or Lady in the Water, the bedtime fairy tale where film critics were evil and Shyamalan cast himself as a martyred writer who goes on to write the most important piece of literature in modern history. By the time his apocalyptic “green” thriller reaches the theoretical conclusions to what’s behind its title, it won’t just be in the theater where you see people jumping off but it will be where you hear the loudest laughter this side of Forgetting Sarah Marshall in 2008.

Beginning immediately not with laughs but tragedy, Night’s tale opens one Spring morning where a park full of people freeze up and we watch as a young woman jams a hair needle into her neck. The phenomenon begins to spread with people killing themselves all along the East coast. Over in Philadelphia, high school science teacher, Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is conveniently looking for answers out of his disinterested class why honeybees are disappearing suddenly. News reaches the faculty and everyone is dismissed until the “event” blows over. Fellow teacher and best friend, Julian (John Leguizamo) offers Elliot and his wife, Alma (Zooey Deschanel) a chance to leave with him and his daughter, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), into the country. The situation grows more dire as contact is lost with “everyone” and these few survivors try to find the smallest towns available to hide out while the major Eastern cities show evidence of further catastrophes.

Unfortunately, there’s little more I can say about the film’s plot since viewers who, for some reason, might still be intrigued by Shyamalan’s mysterioso trailers, will be attending for the explicit purpose of wondering what the hell is happening. Without giving you the one word that would spoil it all for you, advanced as a theory about 40 minutes in and basically confirmed ten minutes later, you would not be far enough in your assumption that what’s up his sleeve is his horrific version of an ecological wake-up call. It could be terrorism. It could be nature. What it turns out to be is a cinematic disaster of MST3K proportions we haven’t seen from the likes of a major studio since, maybe ever.

And it’s not impossible to work around deliberating the defining cause of the phenomenon. You can start right off with the performances. This is the sort of extraordinary, career-low work you get from actors when they are faced with a plotline they cannot possibly overcome and direction that demands a illiterate restraint when it requires the talent involved to take it to levels so operatically over-the-top to give them an excuse to kibosh the criticism later on. From his opening scenes, Wahlberg looks lost trying to sell himself as a voice of reason and theoretical thought. We never expect him to launch into heroics, as that would require Shyamalan to dolly faster than a turtle with a broken leg. But notice how he embarrasses Wahlberg by keeping the camera stoic on his face in another inept attempt to induce suspense by misguided rationalization (complete with easily the worst written piece of dialogue of 2008 – “we cannot just stand here as uninvolved observers”) and a straight-faced scene in which he engages in a conversation with a plant. Still, he comes off as positively glowing compared to the utterly baffling work turned in by Zooey Deschanel. Normally such a quirkily matter-of-fact (and always interesting) actress, from her first appearance up through the love-conquers-all(?) climax there is something so off about her performance that the only obvious subtext is that she’s playing mentally challenged. Her childlike approach to adult matters and her bug-eyed reluctance to answer a cell phone (be sure to peruse the cast list to amusingly gather whom she’s ignoring) might be home in a comedy, but to satisfy a filmmaker whose funny bone was surgically replaced with an extra dose of pretension, Deschanel breaks the bank on the term “out of their league.” As for Betty Buckley’s third act turn as a solitary survivor, all I can say is that the Mystery Science boys would be able to construct an entire episode around the number of “Best Brains” moments that slap us towards the conclusion.

Whatever shocks Shyamalan has had in store for us since way too many people were fooled by his lethargic Sixth Sense, he has decided to take it up a level with “his first R-rated film” (as the ads so proudly annouce) perhaps as an antithesis to his fairytale (yet still PG-13) children’s tale, Lady in the Water. Now, it’s easy to shock an audience if all you want is to string together a series of gore effects; normally the sign of a director without any other tricks in his pocket. The problem with announcing its arrival as some hard-edged adult horror film (with little more than a letter as your proof) is that you better be damn sure you’re capable of delivering something that will do more than shock us. We have to be unnerved. There’s nothing unsettling about a spurt of blood shooting out of a small bullet hole or a lion ripping off a guy’s arm or someone casually lying down in front of a giant lawnmower if no one in the film can muster up enough of a reaction themselves. Nobody in The Happening reacts above the decible of a mouth-gaping mute. After a hairpin is jammed into her friend’s neck, seconds go by without anything but a look of “oh.” Joaquin Phoenix freaked out just seeing an alien on a videotape in Signs, but those in the surrounding areas immune long enough to witness these atrocities neither run to or for help. (If 90% of the East Coast is wiped out and contact has indeed been lost with everyone, it must be by some miracle of evolution that the population is thriving just three months down the road.) A scene where a construction site is littered one-by-one with falling bodies instantly becomes an homage to the Monty Python sketch involving suicidal office workers flying past an open window and faster than you can say “betcha Parkinson's next”, the greatest shock is that the sequence might even be funnier than its inspiration.

Global warming or natural redesign might be Shyamalan’s goal but he neglects the context to its destructive path. If we are indeed the villains (like the dinosaurs before us) than the dawn of our demise must be laced with some brand of arrogance or careless behavior such as within The Birds or The Day the Earth Stood Still (which is being remade by Fox this year.) The adage that the unknown makes things scarier doesn’t hold true when the filmmaker has a greater point to make; a warning being shot across our bow, particularly one as patently ludicrous as what he’s concocted here, has it’s factual resonance clouded by Night’s continued explanatory copout that shit just happens. (If he combined it with the repugnancy of Sex and the City’s characters, he may just have had something.) An egotist by any standard, he may be the first person to say “no” to Steven Spielberg since the release of Jaws when graced with the chance to pen the new Indiana Jones film. One can easily imagine him standing in front of a giant mirror with the words “M. Night Shyamalan’s” etched across the top thinking up The Happening by freezing in awe of himself, repeating his one thought over and over again but then failing to do us all a favor and take it to the third stage. Instead he has his audience again trying to outrun the wind from his pharisaical bag of untalent with one of the most laughable excuses for a film of any genre but the greatest excuse yet to get that petition started. The last thing we want is a future of Shyamalan films with the knowledge that we all could have done something sooner.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17246&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/13/08 14:00:00
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell lame 1 stars
5/28/16 Ken This film is a big fat fail! 1 stars
8/15/14 Mario is the Best What a stupid movie! 1 stars
1/18/12 Marc DC Nothing HAPPENING... Doesn't even deserve 1 star 1 stars
1/17/12 Lenny Zane One star for eye candy of Zooey Deschanel. Plot is a descent into crass lunacy. 2 stars
8/16/11 chris Creepy, a little, but the hilarious acting kills it and so does the hilarious twist. 3 stars
9/21/10 art A WILD STORY!,A VERY WILD STORY!!!! 2 stars
3/28/10 Adam The dialogue was eye-gougingly bad...but I didn't hate it. 2 stars
12/08/09 art A NIGHTMARE MOVIE PERSONIFIED! 4 stars
10/20/09 2Cruzy Even on DVD...Pretty Crappy! Glad I didn't pay real money to see this POS... Fail! 1 stars
10/19/09 auzzie chickie first 30 secs r great but the rest... It's the wind! RUN! ppl running from nothing?..ok... 2 stars
8/13/09 Daniel Kelly Saw it last year and was not impressed. Can't imagine it gets better on a 2nd viewing 2 stars
7/07/09 art A FRIGHTENING FABLE! 4 stars
7/05/09 MP Bartley Woeful acting and dreadful in spots - but equally quite tense and effective in others. 3 stars
4/18/09 Dani O. Mark Wahlberg's performance? Two words: "Garbage Day!" Such a squander. 2 stars
1/27/09 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
12/22/08 FrankNFurter Wahlberg begging mercy from a houseplant is the funniest moment in American cinema. 1 stars
11/24/08 g. ho hum 2 stars
11/16/08 drdanny The reviewers are too kind. it's just awful. 1 stars
11/04/08 David A pretty well thought out movie, and i actually as well as most of my friends enjoyed it 4 stars
10/21/08 George (DUKE) Hokey Hokey this is garbage...my last M Night movie 1 stars
10/08/08 Jon G A fun movie 4 stars
9/13/08 Bruce Curb Cheap ending indeed(but I think premise really has nowhere to go),but ZooeyDesChanel is HOT 3 stars
9/13/08 Meredith Harshaw Suspenseful buildup, cheap ending. Premise more suited to pure horror than message flick. 3 stars
8/26/08 KTM Chick Have an absolute horror of summer breezes? A must see! 1 stars
7/06/08 Jayson Save your money and run. 2 stars
7/03/08 damalc Sobczynski could really use an editor 2 stars
6/29/08 ahnold Similar to Signs, but "so what"? Interesting interplay bn characters as usual. 5 stars
6/28/08 frank_reed Search YouTube for The Crappening: A Happening Parody 1 stars
6/27/08 ab Awful Movie 1 stars
6/27/08 Ole Man Bourbon "The Crappening" would be an honest title. Comically bad. 1 stars
6/23/08 L.A. Francois Bady storyline, poor script. Disappointing for this director. 2 stars
6/21/08 Erix This Shyamalan hatred is bordering on irrational. This was a good thriller. 4 stars
6/20/08 Oliver Klozov More 'Earth good, Man bad, must die' blather, makes Day After Tomorrow look smart 1 stars
6/19/08 Tom A sub-par Twlight Zone episode padded to 91 minutes. 2 stars
6/18/08 Gary Remember when his movies had cool endings? Even Wahlberg cant save this one 1 stars
6/18/08 Quigley A major misstep for M. Night. Let's hope he'll come back eventually. 3 stars
6/18/08 PAUL SHORTT ELEGANT FILMMAKING KNEECAPED BY A THUNDERINGLY STUPID CONCEPT 1 stars
6/18/08 Joe So so So So Bad 1 stars
6/17/08 Anthony G Good, sad to see people become sheep and not form their own opinion. 4 stars
6/16/08 matt I thought it was an interesting social commentary... but the ending was just stupid 3 stars
6/16/08 Grace He's a fine director, but he really needs to stop writing his own scripts. 2 stars
6/16/08 pin I didn't even see this, but I know it sucks. 1 stars
6/16/08 Amy E Awesome premise... too bad it didn't have an awesome movie to go with it. 2 stars
6/16/08 ESC Did anyone else play 'spot the boom mic?' What was that about? 1 stars
6/16/08 Sean I wanted this movie to be good, but it sucked... 2 stars
6/16/08 bhavin This guy deserves one "STAN......""ONE TIGHT SLAP"...STANDING ovation in yr dreams syhamlan 1 stars
6/16/08 Kristy The acting was horrible and the end was so predictable. Not worth the time or $ 1 stars
6/16/08 GC NOTE to hollywood-yeah 6th sense was good, but please STOP letting this man make movies 1 stars
6/16/08 jessica i seriously walked out.... the most scripted acting I have ever seen. HORRIBLE!!!!! 1 stars
6/14/08 Jesse WORST movie I've seen in many years. 1 stars
6/14/08 Random meaningless meanderings 2 stars
6/14/08 James Eric M Night: Run yourself over with a lawnmower or get eaten by a lion please 1 stars
6/14/08 Alex Thorne Odd to say the least. a promising start quickly leads to lethargic meandering. strike 3?... 2 stars
6/13/08 Harish Nayar Quite bad! 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 07-Oct-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Jun-2008
  DVD: 07-Oct-2008




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