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The Happening (2008)
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Review Date: July 18, 2008
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer
Actors:
Mark Wahlberg as Elliot
Zooey Deschanel as Alma
John Leguizamo as Julian
Plot:
This film begins as people suddenly starting killing themselves in large numbers in cities on the East Coast of the United States. Marky Mark and his wife join the gaggle of folks who start to evacuate the big cities and head into the smaller towns. Nobody knows what is causing these folks to whack themselves in the thousands, but one thing is for sure…Bruce Willis has nothing to do with it. M. Night Shyamalan ensues…
Critique:
Before I get to my review, allow me to mention how this film’s first 30 minutes engulfed me by the balls, more than any other movie that I’ve seen so far this year. I mean, no matter what people say about writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, I don’t think many can argue his talent when it comes to creating an ominous situation with growing suspense. My balls were engulfed, man! But enough about my balls. Unfortunately for Mr. Shyamalan and anyone else sitting in the audience watching this movie, the utter strength of the film’s first 30 minutes ultimately becomes its greatest weakness, since it isn’t able to maintain that growing suspense and eager anticipation all the way through, and things start to feel redundant after a while, and ultimately…not as satisfying as you’d expect from a film that built its base so well. Kinda like when a friend tells you that he’s got this “amazing idea” for a movie and he describes something really cool about an alien invasion or something, and you say, “Okay, that’s a very cool first act, but what happens after that?” and your friend just kinda stares at you blankly. That’s not to say that this film’s second half wasn’t engaging in any way, because it did answer some of the questions that the film built up so succinctly in its first half, but I think that the answers weren’t as profound or cool as I’d hoped they’d be.

The lead actors were okay, with Mark Wahlberg playing Mark Wahlberg really well throughout the entire picture, while Zooey Deschanel continued to prove that she’s an adorable person, even when the planet Earth is seemingly dying all around her (although as an adult wife, she seemed more like a 12-year old for the first half of the movie). Someone should finance a documentary on her eyes alone though…wow, have you seen those things?!? But back to the actors. I thought John Leguizamo did a great job as the torn father, but a couple of the secondary characters seemed a little too over-the-top or just plain “weird”, under the circumstances. For example, why was the Army dude they ran into, a total doofus? And how come that old crazy woman was so friggin’ crazy? And even though I liked the “hot dog guy”, what was his deal? But on the whole, the film peaked my interest all the way through, didn’t outstay its welcome by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, I wished it had been a little longer with greater depth) and offered a ton of cruel and unusual suicides throughout its runtime. And while I did appreciate all that, I also thought that the killings seemed a little gratuitous after a while, the small girl in the movie was way too “cool” under the circumstances and the film felt redundant more than gratifying, once all was said and done.

That said, I think most critics have been overly-brutal toward this film and Shyamalan, and in this case, undeservedly so. The film still boasts plenty of creepy atmosphere, a heaping of suspense and memorable images, and ultimately sends a “good message” out there. It isn’t perfect though, so go into it with reservations and you may just enjoy it a lot more than most people. As for me, I’m going to ask Miss Deschanel’s eyes to marry me. Wish me luck! As for all those people complaining about “plot holes” or that the “why” of the movie ultimately was too far-fetched…if you pretend that the film is science-fiction, does that make it better? If it does, then pretend it’s sci-fi and go with it, asshole. It’s a fuckin’ movie, not a documentary about the planet earth.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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9:59AM on 11/09/2010
I was shocked at the end that it went to Paris, it was a thriller about unknown toxics that make people kill themselves.
I was shocked at the end that it went to Paris, it was a thriller about unknown toxics that make people kill themselves.
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1:44PM on 01/29/2010

Could Have Happend a while ago

M. Night's films aren't great, but they certainly aren't garbage either, they just belong to another generation. That's all I can really say. The films are a great artistic emotional expression that relies less on story, and more on substance, which is great. But with the high-paced adrenaline rushes everyone desires from movies these days, the Happening does not deliver. I think if this movie was made a few decades ago, it would have been much more well received. That is not to say it is a bad
M. Night's films aren't great, but they certainly aren't garbage either, they just belong to another generation. That's all I can really say. The films are a great artistic emotional expression that relies less on story, and more on substance, which is great. But with the high-paced adrenaline rushes everyone desires from movies these days, the Happening does not deliver. I think if this movie was made a few decades ago, it would have been much more well received. That is not to say it is a bad movie, because it isn't, I think it just bleongs to a different era of movie goers.
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9:47AM on 10/12/2008
Just watched this movie, and I must admit, even after all the negative hype surrounding this and even hearing some spoilers along the way, it wasn't THAT bad.

In my opinion, the main downfall of this movie is the acting and the actors. Mark Wahlberg is usually great in his films, but this was just not the right film for him. All his delivery seemed forced. One thing Shyamalan seems to like doing more and more is creating these tense situations, but making many of the extra characters just
Just watched this movie, and I must admit, even after all the negative hype surrounding this and even hearing some spoilers along the way, it wasn't THAT bad.

In my opinion, the main downfall of this movie is the acting and the actors. Mark Wahlberg is usually great in his films, but this was just not the right film for him. All his delivery seemed forced. One thing Shyamalan seems to like doing more and more is creating these tense situations, but making many of the extra characters just goofy and stupid. So how can he expect to keep tension levels high when a lot of the characters involved in the background are just not serious (i.e. the army guy).

All in all, the movie was a good idea and definitely an improvement over his last two films, but still not measuring up to his first three.
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3:48AM on 09/02/2008
I was one of the few who defended THE VILLAGE, and I still think it is one solid, underrated thriller. I found excuses for how lame LADY IN THE WATER was at some points; I even tried to justify the kid's reading "signs" from a corn flakes box, for fuck's sake. But with THE HAPPENING, I think M. Night 'the man' Shyamalan has just failed me.

I agree with everyone: the first act of the films is fascinating. As strong and effective as any part of UNBREAKABKE or even THE SIXTH SENSE. But then
I was one of the few who defended THE VILLAGE, and I still think it is one solid, underrated thriller. I found excuses for how lame LADY IN THE WATER was at some points; I even tried to justify the kid's reading "signs" from a corn flakes box, for fuck's sake. But with THE HAPPENING, I think M. Night 'the man' Shyamalan has just failed me.

I agree with everyone: the first act of the films is fascinating. As strong and effective as any part of UNBREAKABKE or even THE SIXTH SENSE. But then the major characters show up. And they start to talk. And DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN are they lame and unbearable! What's with Zooey acting with her eyes' pupils, like she was in a "who-can-open-their-eyes-widest" competition! It wasn't cute. It wasn't funny. It wasn't acting! It was irritating. As for Whalberg, well, this was one of the worst performances of his career, and he isn't a great actor in the first place. The dialogue is PAINFULLY BAD, and never makes sense. The whole thing was just... annoying in the last hour, and going in circle and never building on the strong premise. They just run from one place to the other. The wind blows. They hide. etc..

I am being harsh because I do believe Shyamalan can do a lot better. If he kept the rythm and intensity of the first thiry minutes "happening", it woulda been great. There are some good scares, some touching moments towards the end, but they are mostly ruined by BAD acting and lame dialogues.
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7:09PM on 08/29/2008

weakkkk

The review above discusses the first 30 minutes as being great "ball grabbing" movie making. I agree. Everyone agrees! And it is!

But so much, so, so so much could be done with this super-great begining, one wonders why the film maker took the path that ultimately led into abandoned barn sheds and undulating hay fields.

What nonsense!

Question: Is the movie worth seeing?
Answer: The first 30 minutes, absolutely. But then leave the movie house or turn of the DVD player and allow your
The review above discusses the first 30 minutes as being great "ball grabbing" movie making. I agree. Everyone agrees! And it is!

But so much, so, so so much could be done with this super-great begining, one wonders why the film maker took the path that ultimately led into abandoned barn sheds and undulating hay fields.

What nonsense!

Question: Is the movie worth seeing?
Answer: The first 30 minutes, absolutely. But then leave the movie house or turn of the DVD player and allow your own inagination to complete it. Whatever your imagination constructs, it will be far better than what happens in this movie.


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7:26PM on 08/13/2008
You nailed this film's strengths and weaknesses better than just about anyone else I've ever heard from! Good job!

One thing that bugs me is Night's direction of actors to spit out almost every single line in a very calm, cool, ominous way, even if the situation goes against that. Like the construction worker at the beginning who seems upset but in no real hurry to get an ambulance.
You nailed this film's strengths and weaknesses better than just about anyone else I've ever heard from! Good job!

One thing that bugs me is Night's direction of actors to spit out almost every single line in a very calm, cool, ominous way, even if the situation goes against that. Like the construction worker at the beginning who seems upset but in no real hurry to get an ambulance.
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10:17PM on 07/19/2008

I agree

It was a good, but flawed movie. Strangely, the gore shots seemed tacked on, like maybe M. Knight decided to add them aftwards, because production was troubled and he needed the movie to have some extra added ballz?
It was a good, but flawed movie. Strangely, the gore shots seemed tacked on, like maybe M. Knight decided to add them aftwards, because production was troubled and he needed the movie to have some extra added ballz?
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10:16PM on 07/19/2008
Rather than expect what the trailers show you for M. Night movies, expect the opposite. Like all M. Night films, this film is no exception: It's marketed badly. It's marketed as if it's a serious and scary movie. On the contrary, the movie does not take itself too seriously and has moments of some very funny scenes.

No doubt is this M. Night's most funny film (not in an unintentional way). Think of this as a B-movie as M. Night intend it to be. The film really doesn't take itself seriously,
Rather than expect what the trailers show you for M. Night movies, expect the opposite. Like all M. Night films, this film is no exception: It's marketed badly. It's marketed as if it's a serious and scary movie. On the contrary, the movie does not take itself too seriously and has moments of some very funny scenes.

No doubt is this M. Night's most funny film (not in an unintentional way). Think of this as a B-movie as M. Night intend it to be. The film really doesn't take itself seriously, in a way. There are some really funny scenes in here, including one with Mark Wahlberg apologizing to a plastic plant. So don't expect it to be all serious because of the trailer. From the beginning credits, the film pulled me in. I was with it. My heart was pounding. The score used in here is surprisingly B-movie like.

Within a few scenes into the movie, the film is quite eerie and chilling. This film is also character driven and I liked the characters. Obviously, the film has an environmental message. Preachy or not, I liked the idea of plants killing humans off because we're polluting the environment, but that's just me. You don't usually see original ideas like these. As a Night film, it's the worse but it's still a good movie. And no, there is not twist ending in this film so don't expect one.

Rather than CGI effects, mindless action scenes that does nothing with the plot, and the usual characteristics of a summer movie, "The Happening" shifts over to the other side: It's slow paced and character driven. The performance, whatever people said about them, were actually good in here. Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo all do a good job. See, most people expect them to act like people in every other apocalyptic thriller: Scared, terrified, etc. When you see this movie, they actually act calm, cool, and collected, and sometimes even funny, as if not taking things seriously.

People usually don't like M. Night movies because they have the wrong expectations for it. Well, I'll tell you this: Expect a B-movie inspired by "The Birds" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Some people will go along with the idea. Some will not. It depends the type of person you are that determines if you're going to enjoy this film or not. As for me, I enjoyed it much better than the usual summer fare.
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12:42PM on 07/18/2008

Agree

I went into seeing this film after hearing some really bad reviews and came out wondering why.

The film was engaging and had its suspense moments. Several parts felt totaly forced and lacked realism, even within the realm of the film. Wahlberg was pretty terrible putting this aside I enjoyed the ride and didn't feel my money was wasted. Oh and you'll have to fight me for Zooey!
I went into seeing this film after hearing some really bad reviews and came out wondering why.

The film was engaging and had its suspense moments. Several parts felt totaly forced and lacked realism, even within the realm of the film. Wahlberg was pretty terrible putting this aside I enjoyed the ride and didn't feel my money was wasted. Oh and you'll have to fight me for Zooey!
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11:43AM on 07/18/2008

disagree

This movie was old schoolish, very dull at times, but i laughed my fucking ass off, m night is smart, becasue we still waste money on his films.
This movie was old schoolish, very dull at times, but i laughed my fucking ass off, m night is smart, becasue we still waste money on his films.
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