What the fuck. That's my warning that this is one of those rare movie reviews where I will swear. Profusely. It's the only way to keep me sane.
I just got back from M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, and... what the fuck? It's incomprehensible. Amazing and incomprehensible. I just don't get it.
First off, Shyamalan took my advice: he created a movie without a twist ending. After The Village and Lady in the Water turned out to be not nearly as good as marketed, it was clear that the best thing the star director could do was get people off the expectation that there would be a twist ending in every one of his films. That would mean he could spend more time focusing on a quality and entertaining story, and less on a gimmick.
But God have mercy on my soul. The Happening is about as bad of a movie as you can get these days, a masterpiece where every star and gizmo align to form the perfect terrible movie. How a film can even achieve a level of such complete and utter failure is beyond me. It's as if Shyamalan, upset that no one liked his God-awful Lady in the Water, decided to say, "Fuck it," to theater goers and deliver a film that lacks any kind of acceptable acting, writing, directing or storyline.
After The Village, I had a bad taste in my mouth. In hindsight, the movie wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great, either. Two of my favorite movies are The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and Signs isn't half bad, either. So, even after Lady in the Water amazed me by how silly and self indulgent it was, I had high hopes for The Happening. The movie looked like a return to Shyamalan's roots, a creepy thriller about something that is causing people to go crazy and kill themselves.
But don't get me wrong! I did not go into The Happening with high expectations. After canceling my opening night visit to the theater, I waited a whole week to see it. In that time, I was pounded left and right by bad reviews. Not only that, but my brother called me a few days ago and informed me just how bad the movie was. Rarely does he lay into a film so viciously, but he had nothing nice to say about The Happening. However, bad reviews don't shape my own opinion; if anything, they lower my expectations to a point where I hope I can enjoy the film on a visceral level.
How wrong I was. The Happening defied my expectations by being much worse than could ever be imagined. This movie makes Lady in the Water look like Schindler's List, a pile of runny dog poo taste like a T-Bone steak, Carrot Top a respectable actor. The movie is terrible, and only recommended to people who like to laugh at truly bad movies. Yes, The Happening is laughably bad, and that's not just because the boom mike appeared on camera for about a quarter of the film.
The acting is terrible. I like Mark Wahlberg, but he is downright embarrassing. So are Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo. The entire supporting cast is pathetic. Of course, one can't completely blame these actors for what can only be described as inane, unrealistic, cringe-inducing, laughable performances. The screenplay is a disaster, perhaps insight into what Shyamalan's personal Hell would feel like.
Beyond that, the movie just doesn't have much going for it. The concept, on a very high level, is decent, but there's not much suspense or excitement. Shyamalan does keep you guessing as to how the characters will survive an epidemic that is indiscriminate - assuming any characters do survive - but that's not enough to warrant a plot that is about as loose as a prostitute at a rodeo. If that didn't make sense to you, The Happening won't either.
Honestly, The Happening is almost assured Worst Movie of the Year on countless lists. This weekend's The Love Guru might come close, but I could never have imagined a film from a director once considered to be the next Spielberg to be so bad.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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