June 13, 2008

The Happening (2008)

I really don't like to use expletives in my reviews, preferring to save them for other occasions, however M Night Shyalaman is really starting to fucking piss me off. This is a director who's output has steadily declined in quality since his debut flick The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable was damned good, Signs wasn't bad, The Village was piss poor and I gave The Lady in the Water a swerve. So, maybe against my better judgement, although I am all for giving him the benefit of the doubt, I decided to catch The Happening. By all accounts the previews looked sharp, and I think Mark Wahlberg is a quality actor. Add into this the fact John Leguizamo also stars in it, I thought we might have a winner. We don't.

The story starts in New York, Central Park to be precise, where people suddenly become all befuddled, lose their speech, followed by their co-ordination, and soon thereafter decide to kill themselves. This spreads to the surrounding streets before moving onto other cities such as Philadelphia.

Caught in the midst of this strange outbreak is Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and Julian (John Leguizamo), two teachers and friends, who, along with Elliot's wife and Julian's daughter, decide to get the Hell out of Philly, and make their way to the country in the hopes of being safe.

Now, I will start off with the positives, because there are a few hidden away in here. Some of the deaths are quite nasty, and on the odd occasion a little shocking. Nothing too graphic really, although some are a little grisly, but there are quite effective for the most part. Also, the movie as a whole does look good, Shyalaman does seem to have his visuals down to a tee. That's about it though for the good stuff.

Where do I begin on the negatives though? The acting was fairly attrocious throughout, the cast being given a horrendously disjointed script that will no doubt have many viewers laughing at the stupidity of it. Characters quite often repeat what the previous person has just said, and all of them state the bloody obvious time and time again. Script aside though, the delivery and acting was just plain poor.

There are far too many scenes that provoked unintentional laughs. I really don't think that was what Shyalaman was looking for when he made this.

The main problem with The Happening though is that the story felt incredibly under developed. It's as if there was a good initial idea, but no-one had any clue how to further develop it. As such everything seemed a little underwhelming. Whether or not the events are explained is irrelevant to me, I can take it or leave it, but please give us something to work with.

I really can't recommend this movie. I would have liked to, had it not been such a disappointing effort. There is plenty of potential here, none of it is allowed to blossum though in this movie that really isn't happening in the slightest. Will I watch M Night Shyalaman's next movie? Possibly, but he really needs to open the possibility of bringing in someone to help write his damned movies, because it obviously isn't working when he pens them himself these days.

A real shame.

Rating 1 star (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton


JD said...

I think underwhelming may be an understatement, but you're right.

Valentine Viscera said...

ah. that's a disappointment, but it's not completely unexpected.
like you said, the previews look great, and i was hopeful.
but i have to agree that shyamalan seems to write checks his ass can't cash.

Unknown said...

Damn! Shyamalan always suckers me in--not with that last one with the mermaid--I didn't fall for that one, but this one looked good. Too bad.

: said...

I'm with you, bro -- while I didn't *hate* this one, I found myself thinking when all was said and done that it had potential to be soooooo much better.

I'd probably give it a middle C.


Anonymous said...


Mega Urban said...

I haven't seen it yet...and yeah, I admit it...part of me is dying to find a way to disagree with you...but, that's just for shits and giggles. I'll be honest about it once I do see it, but I am not paying to see it...well, not full price anyway...