Friday, August 28, 2015

Movie Review: "The Happening" (2008)

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Movie"The Happening"
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2008
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

A strange phenomenon starts happening in cities on the east coast, causing people to inexplicably kill themselves. Meanwhile, a high school science teacher named Elliot (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), attempt to flee the city with his friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and Julian's young daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) and look for safety, but the event is spreading faster than they can run. 

Still ain't as bad as 2015's "Fantastic Four."

"The Happening" is a clear sign that the once acclaimed director M. Night Shyamalan's talent for directing had been steadily declining over the years. This film marks one of the worst in his downward spiral, there's no denying this fact, proving that poor reception of his previous film "The Lady in the Water" was no fluke. Said downward trajectory has haunted him and has continued to this day. One of his lowest rated movies, "The Happening" is also Shyamalan's first and only foray into the R-rated realm, hoping a little gore and unknown terror would bring audiences to see his "horror" film.

Initially, the film shows promise with some pretty cool and gruesome looking death scenes where people inexplicably kill themselves in multiple different ways at the drop of a hat. Within the first 4 minutes of the movie, as soon as Mark Wahlberg is shown on scree, it's the terrible dialogue and horribly bad acting that really gets in the way of every single other scene. Since this film's release, Shyamalan has claimed the dry, emotionless, wooden delivery of his ridiculous, out of place and often times rambling dialogue was all intentional in the hopes to duplicate the feel of a low budget B-movie. What Shyamalan failed to realize is it's very difficult to intentionally duplicate what others accidentally do when it comes to B-movie status. When other directors make these low budget B-movies, they naturally come off with a certain feel because of budget restraints. Actors in those types of films usually didn't intentionally give lousy performances, they just weren't high caliber actors. When normally A-list actors, like two-time Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg, put in poor performances, it comes off looking like they were just phoning it in and didn't remotely care about the project. When we can describe Zooey Deschanel down to the hairs on her freckles because there are so many close, tight shots of her face, it comes off more like Shyamalan had never picked up a camera in his life and simply forgot to take it off auto-zoom. Even if the movie had better dialogue with passionate delivery, let's face it, the entire concept is pretty idiotic anyway. The twist of what has been causing all of the mass suicides is laughable at best. On top of this, for a movie around 90 minutes, the pacing isn't very good and it feels like it drags on and on at times.

All this being said, though a poor excuse for a horror film, it's bad, but it isn't the worst we've ever seen, and not even the worst by Shyamalan, who had far bigger cinematic atrocities to commit later in following films. This was not the nail in his directorial coffin, but it sure as hell came close to being the case.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 14%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
One year ago, we were watching: "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

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