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The Happening

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I just know they're coming to kill me.
Hello MoFo's. MovieMaker here (or, as some of you like to call me, "Movieguy", cuz, you know, that makes sense ) As you all know, I only do reviews for films that I simply want to tell other people what I thought about. And, of course, my review is purely my opinion and not factual at all, so I hope you realize that. As always, I try to incorporate a little story to the film's viewing pleasure to make my review a little bit more interesting than most others.

Anywho, I just did my usual tradition with a close friend of mine, and that is with every new M. Night Shyamalan that comes out, we go and see it opening day at the very first showing. It's not that he's our favorite director or inspired us in any way, but we did it when Signs first came out, and we've continued doing it ever since.

Before going to see the film, I had told him that a friend of mine had sent me one of the earlier scripts, or drafts, for the film (given to me by none other than MoFo's own Yoda), and that after reading it, I was highly confident that this film was going to be good. The script was gruesome, yet it had a good ending to it. What I read on screen on my laptop a few months earlier, I was able to play it out as if I was actually seeing the movie. Now, seeing as how today was opening day, I was hoping my visions would come to life on the big screen.

Well... they didn't.

I mean, what happened? Ernest Hemingway is quoted saying "The first draft of anything is sh*t." Well, in this case, the first draft was golden. It was the shooting script that was sh*t. I'm not going to go into details and compare the draft I got and what I got on screen, but let me tell you, while some elements were the same, a lot had been changed, and I wasn't pleased with that.

First off, the film's premise. I gotta say, I liked that. It was something unique and original, and I'll give M. Night that. Using nature as a monster is usually seen in disaster films, and while we've all seen films like that over and over again, this film used nature as a different type of threat. Again, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you see the film, you'd see what I mean.

The musical score was fitting as well. While not it's creepiest (how can you make music scary when the film's monster is wind?), it did have an eerie element to it that James Newton Howard has the ability to pull off.

But let's tackle one of the big things that's hurting this movie... it's acting.

As they say on the internet, "omg".

I've never seen such bad acting from A-list stars. Mark Wahlberg's acting often comes across as either sarcastic, overly desperate, or totally out of nowhere, and that amounted to some bad acting. Zooey Deschanel acts as if she wants the plants to come kill her now, her acting is so dull and mundane at points. And at times, the dialogue that Shyamalan wrote was a complete joke too. I mean, in one such scene, a car pulls up on-screen. Its time on-screen is enough for the viewer to go "oh hey, look. A car." And it's about three feet behind a two shot of Wahlberg and Deschanel, clearly in plain view for both characters to see it. Yet, Zooey just looks at the car, which has already been on screen long enough even for a blind man to see it, and she goes "A car." Wait, what? Are you kidding me? Not even was her line delivered in the most boring of ways, but it was so blaintenly obvious that a car was there, and if Whalberg's character didn't notice it coming, then how in the hell is he going to notice when somethings about to kill him? My friend and I had tears in our eyes when this line was delivered, and it was also the first time ever in my movie-going experience that the rest of the theater was laughing at it too.

I had read online that the reason why the acting wasn't top-notch was that Shyamalan was aiming for a Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere, trying to re-capture the way actor's had acted in that groundbreaking series, as well as create a sense of a B-movie. Well, let me be the first to tell you that I own every single episode of the original Twlight Zone on DVD (it's only my favorite television show) and nowhere in any episode is the acting from the early 1960s as bad as it was in The Happening.

Oddly enough, even though he's done some bad movies in the past and his acting may not be top quality, John Leguizamo had to have been the best actor in this film. Too bad he wasn't in it long enough for me to enjoy it more.

One funny thing I would like to point out is that Brian O'Halloran, better known as "Dante" from Kevin Smith's Clerks, has a very small cameo in the film. Look for him if you're a fan.

Another thing that got to me was this film's hyped-up "R" rating. The media for it made it seem as if this film really pushed the envelope. M. Night himself even said that people who had just seen it via test screenings went outside, secluded themselves and were just bothered (and after seeing the film, I'd probably do the same thing). Then, after seeing the film, my friend and I just looked at each other and basically went "'R' rating my ass!" The film was nowhere near as gory and gruesome as the script I've got. In my script, the way people die actually bothered you. In this, you feel jealous that they're dead and have moved on to better things and yet you're still stuck there, watching this "movie". Why Shyamalan decided to cut back on the gore is beyond me, but it's not as bad as the marketing is hyping it up to be. At most, I'd say it's a heavy PG-13 (and that's pushing it a bit too, in my opinion).

I know I said I wasn't going to compare scripts, but let me tell you that the ending in the film is nowhere near as good as the one he had originally written. The ending was touching, and it made you feel good. While I must say I enjoyed the very end of the finished product, I felt as if Shyamalan should've stuck with what he had originally thought up, because it created that sense of relief one would want after seeing an apocalyptic event happen right before their eyes.

For me, my favorite M. Night movie will always be Signs, and his greatest movie is arguably The Sixth Sense. But as for The Happening, it's just not, well, happening for me. Maybe as a comedy, yes, because I found myself liking this movie for all the wrong reasons. But as a traditional Shyamalan film? No.

When it comes to M. Night Shyamalan, one often expects his trademark twist. Well, there's a twist in this film alright, and that is, you expect the ending... no, the whole movie to be good. But no! Instead, it sucks! "What a tweest!"

5 out of 10.
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Will your system be alright, when you dream of home tonight?
One funny thing I would like to point out is that Brian O'Halloran, better known as "Dante" from Kevin Smith's Clerks, has a very small cameo in the film. Look for him if you're a fan.
That will be worth the rental.

Also, doesn't Cameron Ruck have a cameo?
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I just know they're coming to kill me.
That will be worth the rental.

Also, doesn't Cameron Ruck have a cameo?
If you mean Alan Ruck, yes, he does. Although his cameo is longer than Dante's.

I think he also lives by me. I know he was born in Cleveland, and I know his daughter goes to school here. So maybe I'll run into him one day.



Will your system be alright, when you dream of home tonight?
If you mean Alan Ruck
Dang, wow I'm sorry, my bad.



They Call Me...Diablo
Tis true. It's a terrible movie. Shame, although it was inevitable



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
The theater I was at had a power outage and I didn't get to see half the movie.
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Suspect's Reviews



Just got back from it...and I thought I'd return to an ol' place of mine...

This review is an eerily accurate summary of my ever so present let down feelings...Zooey Deschanel is dreadfully annoying and completely out of place...Mark Wahlberg, who turned me to a huge fan after The Departed, effectively and quickly flicked that switch back off...at parts the dialogue is utterly laughable, no joke, some lines so cheesy the crowd erupted in howls, knee slaps, and "WTF"s. The idea for the story, I loved, and was sooooo looking forward to M. Nights right bower being laid down on the recent US horror garbage, but alas, here I am thankful that I used a gift certificate night out, over my hard earned cash.
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Horrorphiliac



This was a horrid movie. What a giant waste of money and time. After the movie people were like those in the movie.......no one said anything and just sat there doing nothing. I think we were all pretty much shocked at this truly bad movie. Night is a hack. The whole plot, if that can even be used to describe whatever the heck that was, didn't hold water. It was such a BAD movie. If I were to run into this guy I'd stand still look confused and yell "Hey Night who am I?............a REALLY BAD MOVIE"



They Call Me...Diablo
Er, why was it inevitable?
He's been deteriorating lately and he really doesn't have the heart to make an R rated film. The studios pushed him into a position he didn't want to be in, plus the fact that the script kept being revised. It was just not destined to be a great film



Well; he has been deteriorating lately, but I'm not sure why that would indicate that he's suddenly incapable of making good (or even decent) films. Also, while it's possible he's not being honest about it, he's said nothing to support the idea that the studio "pushed" him into anything. The interviews he's given on the subject have him saying that the studio thought it needed to be an R, and he almost immediately agreed.

As for the script being revised; that's incredibly common. So I don't see how these are reasons it was going to be inevitably bad. The dropoff of his films in general was the only real reason to wonder about it, and I still don't know that that tells us much, either.



This M Night guy has fallen way off the wagon. I used to like him. His first three films were VERY good, with his finest being Unbreakable. I thought that The Happening was gonna be his 'come back' movie, but lord jesus I was wrong. It was atrocious. Nearly as bad as his previous effort.

Thanks for the review though..



Lets put a smile on that block
I'm not going to say much now as i'm sleepy and bothered by this. But The Happening was awful. Really really awful.

My biggest problem? MARK WAHLBERG. Awful awful awful. So would it have been better if he wasnt it? Slightly i think. Not much though.

But do you know what else would have made it better? If there wasnt a group of 16 year old girls talking constantly behind you in the cinema THATS WHAT. It got to about half way through, and even though i had noticed the film really wasnt going where i wanted it to, i really wanted to get into it, but couldnt becasue of the annoying talking, so i start thinking of a way to shut them up. Do i just go nuts and hurl abuse at them and terrify them into silence or do i make them feel guilty? I decided to take the latter, so i turned to them and just said "Look, can you stop talking? Just give it a try and be quiet becuase YOU are ruining this film for EVERYBODY sittin on this row. RUINING IT. So please be quiet". And to my suprise, they looked scared and shut up. I was pleased and sat smugly in my distate for how awful the film was becoming.

It wasnt until i was half way down the road after coming out of the cinema that one of them finally got the guts and shouted down the road "SORRY WE RUINED THE FILM FOR YOU, YOU SPIKEY HAIRED C**T"

Overall not a great cinematic experience for me i must say.
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Sir Sean Connery's love-child
I'd be terrified too if a Big Blibb turned round to me half way through a film!!!
As for the Happening, it's M Night Shittyman, what'd ya expect???
6th Sense, ok movie easy twist to guess, Unbreakable, his best film to date, everything since then has been on the downward slide, I haven't even bothered with Lady in the Water!!!
While I'm on my rant, for the love of God man, M Night, you can't act, stop giving yourself cameos in your films
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I dunno, I thought Night was quite good in his smaller roles; he had some subtle things to convey as the doctor in The Sixth Sense, and did a fine job. And he was adequate in Signs. I don't think he's really a bad actor, just not an especially good one.

Anyway, here's my review of The Happening. Deeply disappointed by this one. I don't quite agree with the people who think it was downright terrible, but it felt very rough and unpolished. I usually expect all of Night's films to have some very redeeming aesthetic factors, even if the storytelling isn't always up to snuff, but that wasn't the case here, sadly.

The Happening



As a reviewer, it can be difficult to know just how to rate a film. Should it be judged on the same scale as any other film, or on how well it achieves its aim? Should it be judged in a vacuum, or should it be compared to similar films? Unfortunately, it hardly matters how one judges The Happening. By any measure, it is an uninspired, listless effort.

The premise is simple: a neurotoxin has been released which causes people to suddenly kill themselves. This is briefly preceded by confusion, and then physical disorientation (which manifests itself as walking backwards). We see this play out from an omnipotent perspective, before shifting to the point of view of one Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), a science teacher who talks as if he's out of breath for the film's entire 91 minute runtime.

The opening scenes are jarring and would seem to set the stage for a taut thriller; an early scene at a construction site is particularly well-crafted. But the very nature of the threat undermines its attempts to scare. The events may be horrific to watch, but the effected people generally pose no danger to those around them; they only want to harm themselves, and are dead within a few seconds. Moreover, the signs which precede every death often telegraph what's going to happen before it does, undermining even the shock factor. The result of all this is that numerous scenes are tense, but few are frightening.

The effects of the toxin may make us cringe, but the way it works ensures that our fear will only go as far as our attachment to the characters. If we don't care about them enough, there's nothing to fear other than the occasional gross-out. And that is exactly what happens; the characters are odd and partially-developed, and it's difficult to care who survives the ordeal. Like them, we're only there to watch nameless characters bite the dust in unusual ways.

It's hard to pinpoint why we don't care; both the writing and the acting could be to blame. Wahlberg's work here has been much-maligned, but it's not clear whether or not he could have done much more with the lackluster dialogue writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has given him. John Leguizamo does the best job of the bunch, but can't rise above the quality of the source material. Zooey Deschanel's Alma Moore is interesting, but we don't learn enough about her, or any of the others. It often feels as if these characters have back stories and motivations that we never get to see. It's not that the characters are two-dimensional, so much as we're simply never shown the third.

Starker than any of these problems is how artless most of the production feels. Even Shyamalan's mediocre efforts like The Village have often featured moving scores and gorgeous photography. This time, everything feels rushed, as if simply getting the images on screen was the only priority.

The Happening stops short of a definitive explanation as to why everything's taking place, but dances around one explanation enough that the answer is obvious. Shyamalan has shown himself to be a gifted writer, but he has a penchant for clumsily shoving exposition into newscasts and random ancillary characters, which is on full display here. Lots of people speculate as to the cause of the film's events, but it's not hard to figure out which ones we're supposed to believe.

One of the film's few bright spots is the humor, which works even when it's wildly out of place. Shyamalan has a talent for absurd, widely accessible humor, but it works best when book ended by genuine thrills, rather than as a respite from the mundane.

What thrills there are largely come from a scene at an old woman's house near the end of the film. The sequence has its problems, but the dialogue takes a sharp turn for the better, and the whole production starts to feel the way we know Shyamalan's films can feel, even if only for a few minutes.

An early draft of The Happening (then under a different, more revealing title) found its way into many hands last year, and a quick read through it shows that it was once much bolder and more coherent. This film has deeper problems than a simple rewrite could possibly address, but once had the potential to be far more interesting. Somewhere between the page and the screen it became one of the worst versions of itself.




I still have hope that this movie might be good since I read a "3 out of 4 stars" review by Roger Ebert. Did not get a chance to see it yet, but maybe this weekend.



Yeah, Ebert dug it, but from reading his review one gets the feeling it's largely because he agrees with its message.

I might bump the rating up to a
, if only because a couple of scenes were awfully well done, and the bad parts were more forgettable than terrible. I'll have to think about it some more.



But let's tackle one of the big things that's hurting this movie... it's acting. . . . I've never seen such bad acting from A-list stars.
I enjoyed your review, especially your comment on bad acting. Saw a piece of hype for the movie on TV this past weekend where they were interviewing some of the actors who kept stressing how important it was for the audience to buy into the characters and the great plot and how they worked so hard to engage the audience because otherwise The Happening just wouldn't happen. Seems from your review that they blew it badly.



A system of cells interlinked
Seems to be the consensus on this one. Odd, as I have liked Wahlberg's last couple of roles, and thought that perhaps he was developing some decent chops. I guess he has decent chops with Scorsese at the helm, who is clearly an actor's director.
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