The Happening

"Terrible"

The Happening Review


You know that co-worker that comes in after a long, uneventful weekend and insists upon telling you every dull detail of his equally uninteresting escapades? You know he thinks he's captivating, with a great story to tell, but you'd rather shove something sharp into your ears than listen to another minute of his banal ramblings? That's a lot like The Happening, one of the worst attempts at end-of-the-world ominousness since the Robot Holocaust battled the Ninja Apocalypse (and yes -- those are both actual movies).

One beautiful fall morning, all activity in New York's Central Park suddenly stops. Soon, people are cutting their own throats and stabbing themselves to death. Downtown, workers at an office building throw themselves off in a lemming-like mass suicide. In Philadelphia, science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), their best friend Julian (John Leguizamo), and his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) all decide to head to the countryside to avoid the city -- and the source of the so-called attack. Soon, rumors begin flying of terrorist involvement, while others think the local nuclear power plant may be responsible. All anyone really knows is that the psychological virus is spreading and no one appears immune... or safe.

It's official: M. Night Shyamalan is no longer the next Spielberg. At this rate he won't even be the next Ray Dennis Steckler. After the stellar Sixth Sense and the equally excellent Unbreakable, he's managed a downward spiral that few on his Tinseltown trek could survive. Sure, Signs made money, and The Village has its defenders, but after the calamitous Lady in the Water, it was commercial do or die for the 38-year-old. So he responded to said challenge by delivering a cockamamie concept involving the end of the world (or at least the Eastern seaboard of the United States part of it) and how a diminishing group of ethnically mixed individuals deal with all the death and destruction.

Frankly, they don't take it very well -- and neither will the audience. Instead of scares (which are all telegraphed in the various trailers bubbling around the web) we get unintentional laughs. Instead of thought provoking sci-fi speculation, we get the Alan Titchmarsh version of Armageddon. On the plus side, there's no "twist" here, Shyamalan is thankfully abandoning the trademark that frequently flummoxed his narrative structure. Here, conjecture runs rampant, but within the first 30 minutes, Wahlberg and company settle on a single theory. Not to spoil it here, but let's just say it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. It's the least compelling element in a film already hampered by unexceptional casting and dialogue driven by exclamations, not explanations.

Besides, Shyamalan scrimps on the good stuff. We never really experience the breakdown of society; the random events that do occur -- occasional power outages, incomplete radio transmission, speculative new reports -- fail to cause anything other than ennui. The onscreen deaths don't go far enough, holding back on both the horror and gore. Our survivors are mere pawns, required to do no more than stop, yammer, then simply push on, trying to vainly outrun a threat they barely comprehend. The cast tries heroically to infuse meaning into vague, unfocused lines, and there is a last act appearance by a psychotic recluse (played by Betty Buckley) that changes the entire tone into something akin to a backwoods exploitation effort.

In fact, The Happening is very much like the basic made-on-the-cheap B-movie schlock that took up residence at your '50s/'60s passion pit. Of course, keeping company with Ray Kellogg and Bert I. Gordon won't guarantee you placement in cinema's Hall of Fame. Hall of Shame is more like it -- which is exactly where this boring movie and its maker belong.

We'll just wait here 'til the movie's over.



The Happening

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th June 2008

Box Office USA: $64.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $163.4M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: UTV Motion Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Spyglass Entertainment, Blinding Edge Pictures, Dune Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 143

IMDB: 5.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Elliot Moore, as Alma Moore, as Julian, as Josh, as Mrs. Jones, Ashlyn Sanchez as Jess, as Jared, as Nursery Owner, as Private Auster, as Principal, Victoria Clark as Nursery Owner's Wife, as Joey, as Woman Reading on Bench with Hair Pin, as Woman Reading on Bench, Cornell Womack as Construction Foreman, as Woman with Hands Over Ears, Roberto Lombardi as Father in Elliot's Group, Art Lyle as Businessman, as Arguing Man in Crowd

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.