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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Happening(2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring:
Mark Wahlberg/Elliot
Zooey Deschanel/Alma
John Leguizamo/Julian
Ashlyn Sanchez/Jess
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A bizarre and deadly occurrence rips through peeps in Central Park, New York and it sends the city’s citizens OUT OF THERE! Thing is the “mishap” is spreading and hiding places are becoming slimmer by the minute. We follow science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his loved ones as they try to stay alive while attempting to discover what the f*ck is going on!
THE LOWDOWN

After the uneven and plot hole laced THE VILLAGE and the very disappointing (to me anyways) LADY IN THE WATER; M. Night Shyamalan finally takes a step towards "back to top form" with THE HAPPENING. Maybe the fact that the reviews I read before catching it murdered the hell out of it, hence my expectations were in the gutter right along with my ex girlfriend’s corpse; but I was engaged and entertained by this puppy (with rabies) for the most part.

THE HAPPENING started off with an uppercut right off the bat via a visceral and chilling sequence set in Central, Park New York. That bit set up the morbid stage and then off I went on a brutality laced joyride. In fact, through my sit down I kept thinking “Man M Night must be pissed off at the world these days, because he aint playing here”. You can almost sense the author’s (he wrote, produced and directed) anger seep through the screen to back-hand ya silly in your seat. Now, I won’t lie to ya, the inventive, gory-liscious and often almost poetically shot “kills” in this abattoir were my favorite parts of the whole thing. Say what you will about M Night, but when he’s “on” the man sure knows how to structure a “scare set piece” and here was no exception. The beats were on the ball, the tension thick and the unapologetic payoffs kicked some serious ass. I actually winced during a couple of scenes... and I don’t wince man (getting my VISA bill aside of course)!      

Story wise, well for two thirds, the flick rolled out at a smoother than shaved twat's pace.  I do think that your overall enjoyment of the picture will depend on if you buy into the “why” behind the tomfoolery. Don’t worry its not a “twist” a la usual Shyamalan, it just is. You go with it or you don’t. Luckily for me, I bought it, signed, sealed and spanked. It actually made total sense to me. It sure helped matters that in my everyday life when talking about “I can’t tell you to not spoil the why” with friends, I often spurt out what this film was basically saying. So there you have it. Tag to all that an infectious score by James Newton Howard, polished cinematography and on when they were on performances (more on that below) by the bulk of the cast and you get a decent macabre sit down.

With that urinated on keyboard, this celluloid F.T.W. was far from perfect. A lot of the dialogue and the deliveries by the actors often rang false. Mark Whalberg (whom I usually dig) just felt wrong for the first third of the film, fortunately he settled into the role half an hour in. And what was up with Zooey Deschanel here? For at least half the film, I felt like she was either on crack or from Zenu's volcano. Her performance choices were so oddball that it prevented me from giving a crap about her. Nice ass though. Which brings me to the relationship between our two leads which acted as the heart of the film. Didn’t feel it. It didn’t work. Walhberg and Deschanel had no chemistry together, no connection, cold was the word – too bad- was the result. Lastly, the whole lost its steam during its final act. The pace began to lag, we got a totally useless sequence with some “Granny from hell” and the flick didn't know when to end.  

But overall, THE HAPPENING gave me enough creepiness, shocks and above the norm audio/visual stimulation for it to be worth my vacuous time. It had its faults yes, but it wasn’t the absolute mess that everybody is saying it is (in my trivial opinion of course). Is the Happening gonna happen for you? See it and find out!

GORE
This was M Night’s first R Rated movie and the lad embraced the 18th letter of the alphabet like I clinch hookers. Self inflicted mutilations; gun shot wounds, feeding oneself to a tiger (that one’s new), a game of lie down under the lawn mower, spike in throat, glass in eye and more! It got RED!
ACTING
Mark Wahlberg (Elliot) took a while to warm his motor up but once he kicked in full tilt boogie, he worked. Not sure what happened with Zooey Deschanel (Alma) here, but she was way to quirky and strange for me to get attached. John Leguizamo (Julian) rocked it as per usual! I would’ve loved more of him though. Little Ashlyn Sanchez (Jess) was low key and quiet… the way all kids SHOULD BE…ALL THE TIME… just kidding… or am I?
T & A
None and I didn’t need it. I do need it tonight though – bootie call time!
DIRECTING
M Night served up visually arresting shots, stylish angles and taunt set pieces while displaying a firm grasp on foreboding, momentum and whoopass payoffs.
SOUNDTRACK
James Newton Howard’s subtle, melodic yet bleak score so hit the spot!
BOTTOM LINE
THE HAPPENNING hit where it count in terms of a gnarly premise, striking visuals, vile gory goods and a pretty groovy “why” behind the lunacy. Alas the script needed some work dialogue and structure wise and the acting was uneven (with Deschanel just being plain out freaky). But hey, I had a decent time with it (reminded of Stephen King’s novel CELL a bit) and I don’t regret putting coin in its meter. That's all that matters at the end of it. It's definitely an improvement over M Night’s last two films! Keep it up buddy and give us another UNBREAKABLE with your next one!
BULL'S EYE
The movie was shot in sequence.

M. Night Shyamalan had Mark Wahlberg in mind when he wrote the script.

VISIT THE HAPPENING WEBSITE HERE

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