The Happening


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Let me start this by warning there are going to be a bunch of spoilers in this review, so if you don’t want the movie ruined for you, read on at your own risk.

There is a deadly force stirring in your neighborhood. But unlike previous threats, it’s not a ghost, it’s not aliens, it’s not a man hell bent on putting people’s lives in danger, it’s not even a mystical evil from another world. No my friends, it’s a goddamn tree. This weekend the M. Night Shyamalan gave the world his fifth noteworthy film since The Sixth Sense, (sixth film if you count Stuart Little). Like his previous box office hits, he decided to make what is essentially a horror film. In this movie, the monsters are the plants of the Earth, which attack the humans with an invisible…um…something.

The film also relies on cheap tricks like loud music and booms where an eerie silence would have been a lot more fitting/respectable. The studio loved to brag about the R-Rating the movie received, but other then a little gratuitous blood and gore, I wouldn’t say the film was more suspenseful then Shyamalan’s previous films.

As a comic reader I’ve seen this storyline a dozen times. The planet feels that humanity has overstayed their welcome and it’s time to wipe them out. I had a feeling that was the way the film was going to go when I heard the working title was The Green Effect. I was surprised that there was no the surge of natural disasters and craziness that has been happening on this planet lately. There was no underlining message about Global Warming, there wasn’t even a means to prevent it from happening again. It just eventually stopped.

If you’re waiting for a big twist at the end like Shyamalan has become known for, there isn’t one. The end of the film finds the main characters three months in the future where the event has passed and everything seems to have returned to normal. Mark Wahlberg is watching TV and news people are speculating on what happened. One of the newscasters goes on to say that nature is unpredictable and we may never really know what happened. To mean that was like Shyamalan giving the middle finger to the audience and saying, "I can make a blockbuster film with the vaguest of plots and all of you jerks are going to go see it!" I agree that the realistic aspect is for things to happen and some questions to go unanswered, but for a guy who’s known for throwing as much out there as possible because he wants everyone to think he’s a genius, this just felt weak and sloppy.

This kills me because I’ve always been a big M. Night Shyamalan supporter. Until Lady In The Water that is. I still defend Signs to people, which to this day I still think is a brilliant movies. I still get shivers when I watch The Sixth Sense. But after seeing the last mediocre films Shyamalan has had to offer, I can’t help but wonder if he’s jumped the shark.

Mark Wahlberg gives the worst performance of his career. However I’m sure it’s to no fault of his own. He was brilliant in The Departed. In The Happening he comes off less as a confident lead and more like a simple Forest Gump. Zoey Deschanel is flat and uninteresting and it would have been a better film if she died at the end. The best asctor of the bunch was John Leguizamo, who doesn’t even make it to the second half of the film.

However, the worst actor in all of M. Night Shyamalan’s films is always M. Night Shyamalan. One of the clever bits in the film is that Shyamalan plays Joey, a love interest of co-star Zoey Deschanel. However, he never appears on screen and you never even here his voice. The name simple appears on Deschanel’s cell phone in a couple scenes and if Shyamalan’s name didn’t appear in the credits next to Joey we would have never known it was supposed to be him. Is this a metaphor for something, or does he appear as Joey in a scene that was cut from the film, or was this Shyamalan’s way of cleverly inserting himself into a film he really had no right being in?

It would appear that the country agrees with me as well. The Happening pulled in $30 million at the box office, trailing in the wake of The Incredible Hulk’s impressive $55.5 million. Lucky for me there isn’t really anything exciting coming out next weekend so I’ll finally get to see Hulk.

The Happening certainly won’t be the best summer movie you see, if you even bother to see it. I would recommend waiting for it to hit NetFlix and maybe just go see Iron Man again. M. Night Shyamalan has always had a black cloud of net-nerds following his every move and I hate to join the pack. However when he continues to put out big budget steaming piles I can’t help but bitch and moan.


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