Read a review by The Undead Comic here
I’ve never been a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, but all of them at least look fantastic, sound incredible and carry a few solid moments that make the film worth your time. His latest effort, THE HAPPENING, tries to re-invent Shyamalan as a writer-director, only it fits the exact same mold, and this time there’s no major twist that he’s become famous for.
When a series of unusual events begins to draw the attention of the world’s population, high school teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and their family go on the run. Their attempt to avoid becoming victims of these bizarre occurrences develops into a desperate fight for survival as an apocalyptic crisis threatens humanity.
Shyamalan wastes little time is establishing the plot and how severe of a situation everyone is in. The movie opens with two very bizarre occurrences, one depicts a girls suicide on a park bench, while the other features dozens of workers jumping to their death off a building their erecting (shown in the trailer). The scene in the trailer shares little resemblance to the impact of the actual moment in the film. Shyamalan’s HAPPENING is R-rated and it becomes apparent when you literally see workers squashing to their death all around. They lay on the ground mangled and twisted from the dozens of broken bones. The impact of the sequence is off the charts as the sound design and score add so much to an already horrifying moment. Forget the other reviews, things are headed in the right direction, or at least they were…
From here on out the story gets old and our protagonists are on the run from… nothing? There are literally moments in the film where Wahlberg and Deschanel are running through fields while wind chases them. What type of villain is that?! There is a small sense of paranoia delivered throughout the film, but at no point do we actually believe this is happening or could ever happen. Just because Shyamalan fills the movie with devil’s advocates doesn’t make it a second more believable.
One again Shyamalan has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he should NOT be writing his own movies. He’s one of the best when it comes to directing a beautiful film, and integrating masterful sound design and a score, but there is little in this massive scope that carries any weight. In HAPPENING there is no killer, no bad guy and nothing specific to be afraid of, which is why there is zero suspense once the film kicks into high gear. And as shocking as this will sound, THE HAPPENING is a blatant rip-off of the themes from Richard Kelly’s DONNIE DARKO. The lesson of HAPPENING is “fear vs love” and how fear will destroy our world, which is the same as in DARKO.
It also doesn’t help that Mark Wahlberg puts on one of his worst performances of his career, making this reviewer laugh uncontrollably during a few scenes. He speaks as if he’s reading right off cue cards or trying to remember his lines as he says them. There’s nothing that takes you out of a movie more than horrid acting.
But here’s the real shocker, the statement that will blow all of your minds… this is one movie that you will be hoping for a twist ending! When there’s nothing happening for 90-minutes (other than some random deaths), all you can hope for is a finale that sends you out of the theater smiling, instead you’ll walk out perplexed as to what you have just witnessed, which is Shyamalan failing to deliver once again. What’s that I hear? Sounds like the the wind is telling me I should have avoided this one…