Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Written by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo and
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 6/17/08
Here's how I will sum up "The Happening", a
film by director M. Night Shyamalan that I think closes the book on
whether or not the guy is good, great, terrible, or an absolute
piece of shit: wow, this is at least doubly shitastic as his
the Water", a movie that was awful in ways you almost can't
Additional evidence that helps sum up how
bad "The Happening" is:
After we learn that some strange wind-blown
virus is making people stop in place, go completely insane, then
find a way to kill themselves, a Philadelphia-based teacher named
Julian (John Leguizamo) decides it would be a good idea to drive
directly into the heart of this thing by risking his life to save
his wife, who is in Princeton, NJ. Note that when he decides
to do this, he has decided to leave his daughter--who is essentially
already down a mom, and about to be down a dad, too--in the hands of
a science teacher named Elliot (Mark Wahlberg). Back to
Julian...he is riding in a Jeep with four other people who have
decided to find loved ones somewhere in New Jersey. After
driving through a street littered with dead people affected by the
virus, the people in the car realize they have to seal the windows
in order to ensure that the virus doesn't get in. (Never mind
the fact that the Jeep has air vents, which would have certainly
already let the poisoned air in...whatever.)
After the passengers seal the windows,
Julian looks up and notices that there is a slit in the cloth
ceiling of the Jeep...he realizes they are all doomed. Cut to
a shot outside the vehicle of the Jeep stopping...then, in a rush,
the driver (contaminated by this point and set on killing himself)
goes full bore into a tree, shooting both himself and someone in the
BACK SEAT out the front window. Then, we see Julian--who was
riding shotgun the whole time and somehow DID NOT get ejected out
the front window--calmly get out of the Jeep, walk back into the
street, lay down on the ground, and pick up pieces of glass and
begin to cut his wrists with said glass. We fade out, assuming
he is about to die.
This sequence sums up "The Happening" so
well because it makes you see all of the massive problems with this
The logic is routinely awful.
I stopped trying to understand how the "phenomenon" could be
working, because it makes almost no sense at all. It's
also fun to try and understand how people go mute, then crazy,
then smart enough to, I don't know, operate a riding mower to
mow in a semi-circle and to lay down right in the path of the
mower. (You will be howling when you see this sequence,
The acting is as bad as any Hollywood
release this summer. Maybe you credit a guy for giving
locals a shot at being in a major film...maybe you look at him
and then slap him across the face for being such a fucking
idiot. Also, note to casting directors--Zooey Deschanel
started out as a bad actress and is getting WORSE.
The film is incredibly violent for a
movie of this type. It's almost like Shyamalan wanted
to prove to someone he could be senselessly bloody; usually, you
don't see a teenager's head blown off by a shotgun or old people
ramming themselves through a window multiple times in the
movies. Here, you do.
"The Happening"--following Shyamalan's
efforts on both "Lady in the Water" and
"The Village", a
terrible film in its own right--has made me see the light with this
guy; we have to now admit that
"The Sixth Sense"
was pure, blind luck. How else can we explain it?
Remember, "The Sixth Sense" literally was nominated for six Oscars
INCLUDING Best Picture. He even got some of his actors
nominated in that film, and he even got Bruce Willis to appear like
he was acting, too!
wasn't bad--relying, again, on a surprise ending--and
"Signs" was actually,
at times, very good. Then he went down the bad path that has
led him to today, and his last three films have really been bad.
In fact, I made a suggestion to a friend
yesterday about this recent effort--watch "The Sixth Sense" then
immediately watch "The Happening"...it is shocking to see how far
the director has fallen. Otherwise, avoid this new one in
theaters, even if someone offers to buy your ticket!!!
Rating: Hard Vice
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard