The Happening – A Lame Attempt To Scare

The Happening     D

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)
Rated R for violent and disturbing images
Appropriate for ages 17+


The Story: In the Northeastern United States, a chemical has been released into the air that is causing people to stop what they are doing and kill themselves.  A school teacher and his wife escape from the city and head into the country where they think they might be safe from whatever is happening. 

The Good: There is an interesting premise here.  Having the plants of the Earth tell us that they won’t take it anymore and remind us that they have the power to give life and steal it – well that could be the makings of a good story. 

Other than the premise, the only other redeeming quality is the beautifully haunting score by composer James Newton Howard.  As he did for Shyamalan’s last two films, The Lady in the Water and The Village, Howard gives us music that elevates far above the movie he is scoring.

The Bad: Where do you start?  I guess that the most responsible for this mess of a film is writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan.  At least with his other films one could say that the directing itself was solid and there were just a few script problems.  Many of the scenes here look completely amateurish, like a B movie made by a below-average film student.  And there aren’t just a few script mistakes here – this script absolutely stinks.  Every page of it. 

The actors could probably blame the script for their lousy performances, but in actuality, the entire film was miscast and the performances were laughable.  I’m not sure what people would be acting like if something like this were to occur, but I can assure you it wouldn’t be anything like this.

Just like The Village, the film has been misrepresented by it’s advertising.  If you recall, The Village was sold as a horror film when in fact it was a drama.  Now they are billing The Happening as M. Night’s first rated R film.  That might be true, but the only reason it is rated R is to stir up interest.  The violence is lame and looks straight out of a Monty Python movie.  There was no need for the extra violence and only exists to manipulate uninformed movie goers into going.  Now you are informed. 

The Summary: Someday someone will stop bankrolling Shyamalan’s dumb dreams and keep this kind of tripe from happening.

3 Replies to “The Happening – A Lame Attempt To Scare”

  1. I agree 100%. I kept watching Zooey Daschenal and I kept wondering, what is she doing and what is she doing in this film. Wahlberg was totally out of character. The dialogue was lame. The little girl had maybe 1 line of dialogue – a waste. The scene showing the Three Mile Island-like nuclear plant behind the nursery was, again, a waste. Though at that point in the film, it did make me wonder. I left after the anticlimatic pregnacy scene and the double anticlimatic scene in France that ended this loss wondering why the plants attacked a small area of our country and waited 3 weeks or so before attacking again, on the other side of the world. Then exiting the theatre and driving along its tree-lined route, I concluded that it was more ludicrous and impossibe that plants should attack then it was for aliens to drop into my cornfield.

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