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The Happening

A movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

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What The Hell Happened?

  • Jul 5, 2009
  • by
The Happening is Shymalan's first bad movie. But he still has yet to make a complete dud of a film. This one comes a bit close, but not quite. For one, the premise is much too good: Mother Earth strikes back, emitting from all of her greenery a toxin that is fatal for humans. Specifically, it causes them to kill themselves.From there, you can gather that the 90 minute runtime will be filled with confusion and hysteria as everyone tries to escape this strange Green Effect (by the way, that was the original title for this movie). Mark Wahlberg plays a role that isn't all that special. He's not here to save the day. Sort of. But not really. He's just a high school teacher who is pretty much selected as the guy we're going to follow throughout this fiasco. He has a few helpful insights, but for the most part, this is a natural disaster film where there is no out smarting the disaster. You just have to stick it through.

On paper, The Happening sounds like genius waiting to happen. As a fan of Shyamalan I still believe he was the man to bring such genius to the table. But something went wrong here, and though it's easy to point out what -- it's hard to point out why.

First the what.

Perhaps the most glaring flaw of this movie is the creativity that the Green Effect victims employ to kill themselves. In the beginning of the movie they're walking off the roof of buildings, which is far more convincing and believable than having the werewithal to turn on an industrial sized lawnmower and laying down on the grass waiting to be sliced and diced by it. The violent gratuity not only takes away from what should have been a chilling, atmospheric suspense movie, but also seems uncharacteristic of Shymalan. Not that Night is averse to depcting blood on the screen. The Sixth Sense had its share of gore, but it was all split second visuals, proving that Night understands that "Less is More". With the Happening, "More is Less".

So why did this happen?

Night has proven more than once that he can write and direct good movies. Most of the time, at least. I want to believe that after Lady in the Water, the man either lost his nerve, his creative license or both. I've enjoyed most of his movies up till this point. Signs was his only pre-Happening movie that I didn't care for. And despite my affinity for Lady, there's no getting around the fact that he's been treading Water ever since the movie was drowned by critics and most audiences. Maybe he needed to prove that he could still hit that coveted $100+ million mark at the box office. Maybe Fox, who mandated a $100+ box office draw demanded that he go back and add more shock and shlock to appeal to the an even lower common denominator. If that is the case, I'm not surprised. But I am disapointed. The Happening deserves better. It's an intelligent concept that somehow ended up being just plain stupid.

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November 25, 2009
Wow this sounds bad. You said it isn't Night's first bad movie? I'm going to assume then that you didn't see The Village, or liked it a lot more then I did.
November 25, 2009
I did like The Village, but not as much as I like the idea of putting "The" before your name. Cool screen name :-)
December 01, 2009
Thanks. I have to try and see Night's other films, Lady in the Water and this but man I lost faith in this guy quick. He'd better sharpen his skills instead of making "twist" movies.
July 28, 2009
Very nice review!  I have to say though that both this movie and Lady in the Water were both terrible, terrible films!  I would unfortunately have to say that Night has no creative genius and has gone bananas!  I feel as if he had this movie be rated R for the sheer what effect it would have on viewers.  Instead you come out with a movie that should have in all rights been called The Crappening. 
July 26, 2009
I'm not a big fan of Shyamalan's work because he has a tendency to rely on the big twist, and I have always been able to see them coming a mile away which has definitely taken a lot of the enjoyment out of the movie experience for me. Still THE SIXTH SENSE was good enough (even if I did get after about 10 minutes),SIGNS was okay and I liked UNBREAKABLE although it too was pretty obvious, but THE VILLAGE was just a big embarrassing stinker of a film. so much so that I stayed away from LADY IN THE WATER. I will probably catch it when I can see it for free on tv because from what I've heard it got an unfair rap. THE HAPPENING I'm not so sure about. I saw a film that seems somewhat similar on the surface called THE RUINS in which vines enshrounding a MesoAmerican pyramid actually killed people by imitating the sound of cell phones ringing! Among other things. It was a very bad cinematic year for the environment.
July 27, 2009
Lady in the Water is definitely a tough sell. As much as I enjoyed the movie, it is certainly a bit quirky and there are some inconsistencies to it. But you might appreciate it for the absence of a twist ending. Lady is Shyamalan's attempt at an E.T. type movie. If you do NetFlix it might be worth putting it on your queue.
July 27, 2009
I'm on NetFlix so I might give it a spin. It does sound like it might be more interesting to me than a lot of his other films, and not just because of the absence of the twist ending.
July 27, 2009
Not sure how much reading time you give yourself, but if you have any interest in how movies are made, you might want to read "The Man Who Heard Voices." It's about the making of Lady in the Water and it's written by a sports journalist who was allowed to shadow Night during the entire making of the movie. Man, what a painful read. Night really took it on the chin for that movie. Especially after one of Disney's producers rebuffed the script. According to the book after the meeting, Night was in the hotel lobby in tears. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. It's also a fun read because the cinematographer apparently was half-crazy. The story also includes great story anecdotes about Paul Giamatti.
July 27, 2009
I'm still having problems envisioning a movie that some people say is worse than THE VILLAGE. It's strange that a sports writer was the guy doing this piece. I don't read much anymore. It was about 4 years into my job at the Post Office that my eyes started going really bad and I gave up on anything that wasn't work related. I'm trying to get back into it now that I'm 2 years off the job. It all seems like a nightmare now.
July 06, 2009
I could not agree more. I like most of his films, but this one just didn't measure up. Excellent review.
July 06, 2009
It was actually a bit embarrassing for me because I defended Lady in the Water against a bunch of people -- and then we all went to see The Happening...and well, when we came out of this one, they all looked at me waiting to see what I was going to say then. I just stayed quiet.
July 06, 2009
I don't blame you. I went with a friend, and we both just looked at each other when we came out. No comments, no discussion, just awe that something could be so bad. I am a huge fan of Zooey, too. She was wasted in this turkey
More The Happening reviews
review by . December 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****      In the past, M. Night Shyamalan has dealt with the ominous, the dark, the questionable, the humane, and even the beautiful. He has shocked me and with "Signs", I was most certainly riveted. But then came "The Village", which was a decent movie, but it was a big step down from "Signs". Then came "Lady in the Water", which I just could not find myself enjoying. M. Night Shyamalan tries to patch up his career with his first …
review by . August 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Man Cannot Explain Every Phenomena, But He Tries To Explain Through Deductive Reasoning...
Act of God- A direct and sudden event or action of certain unexplainable forces that could not be reasonably foreseen; it compromises all evidence and defies all attempts at explanation by Science.      THE HAPPENING is writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest outing after his somewhat disappointing “Lady in the Water”. This director’s films are lyrical in tone but often has a darkness in their proceedings; Shyamalan‘s films are also thematic …
review by . May 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I heard this was M. Night Shyamalan's best film since The Sixth Sense (Collector's Edition Series), so I wanted to see for myself.     I really liked this movie because it was suspenseful and moved along at a fast clip, but it's definitely not in the same league as The Sixth Sense. That was a gripping movie, filled with eerie, frightening happenings and great acting.    The opening scene of The Happening occurs in Central Park on a bustling, normal day. Two …
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
I enjoyed it, but this one didn't feel up to the standard of the first ones.
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
dumb dumb boring and dumb did i mention dumb?? lots of suspence leading up to NOTHING
Quick Tip by . April 29, 2010
Movie Review Haiku: The Happening - Answers the question / "What's Happening?" with a curt / "Nothing worth watching."
review by . August 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
If you go into "The Happening" expecting an American style horror/disaster flick, you're bound to be disappointed. What you want from that kind of film are massive explosions, car crashes, tornadoes, zombies or monsters or ghosts, and big budget special effects, all tied together into some kind of coherent narrative with escalating action, leading to a climax in which (usually) the hero saves the world (or at least the local community) and achieves some kind of much needed reconciliation with his/her …
review by . July 08, 2009
M. Night Shayamalan got a huge career boost with The Sixth Sense.  When Unbreakable and Signs came out later, they were met with similar praise from fans.  People found his films to be something different and unique.  Shayamalan made his first mishap with The Village.  The idea of a big twist at the end of his movies didn't get old.  His twists just got weaker.  The Village was a movie that many found absorbing until those last few minutes when we learned of the twist.  …
review by . May 01, 2009
In our opening, people start committing suicide randomly,finding strangely violent cinematic ways to dispatch themselves -¬†and they haven't even seen this film yet. Cut to Marky Mark, a high school teacher in Philly who is making his kids fail their SATs by filling their heads with nonsense about disappearing bees. Are the bees related? What do you think? When the news of this potential bio-terrorist attack hits the school, Marky decides for some reason to get on a train with his not-quite-clear-how-estanged …
Quick Tip by . November 23, 2009
Should've been called "The Crappening." Proves M. Night is a one-hit-wonder.
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You'd expect the end of the world to be no day in the park, but in M. Night Shyamalan'sThe Happening, a day in the park is where the end begins. One otherwise peaceful summer morning, New Yorkers strolling in Central Park come to a halt in unison, then begin killing themselves by any means at hand. At a high-rise construction site a few blocks over, it's raining bodies as workers step off girders into space. And all the while, the city is so quiet you can hear the gentle breeze in the trees. That breeze carries a neurotoxin, and what or who put it there (terrorists?) is a question raised periodically as the film unfolds. But the question that really matters is how and whether anybody in the Middle Atlantic states is going to stay alive.The Happeningis Shyamalan's best film sinceThe Sixth Sense, partly because he avoids the kind of egregious misjudgment that derailedThe VillageandLady in the Water, but mostly because the whole thing has been structured and imagined to keep faith with the point of view of regular, unheroic folks confronted with a mammoth crisis. Focal characters are a Philadelphia high-school science teacher (Mark Wahlberg, excellent), his wife (Zooey Deschanel) and math-teacher colleague (John Leguizamo), and the latter’s little girl (Ashlyn Sanchez). Instinct says get out of the cities and move west; most of the film takes place in the delicately picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, with menace hovering somewhere in the haze. There are...
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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: June 13, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 29min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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