The Happening (2008)

Pretty, pretty deadly flowers.

In the middle of a peaceful New York City-day, a bunch of people are walking through the park when all of a sudden, everybody stops what it is that they are doing, walks backwards a few steps, and each commit suicide. There is no reason whatsoever for this mess, but whatever it is, it has traveled by air all the way to Philadelphia where a couple (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) runs away, trying to find safety wherever it might possibly be. Problem is, nobody knows what it is, what caused it all, how to stay away from it, and what is the cure. It’s just something in the air, and you must run away and find shelter, as soon as possible. Or something like that.

Fuck it, I’m just going to come right out and say it that this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life-time. Which means, yes, I have seen this movie more than once. Once, when it came out in theaters because I was young and stupid, and twice, because I had to do it all for you loyal readers out there waiting to see me complete my posts on M. Night’s career.

The things that I’ll do just to please your asses.

Anyway, away from all that crap, let me just say that this movie is still god-awful after all of these years, and hell, probably a lot worse now that I’ve gotten used to what makes a movie good, entertaining, bad, or just shit. This is that latter category that nobody should ever bother with. Yes, not even movie critics who have been dared by their friends because they apparently “watch any movie that’s put in front of them.” Trust me, friends: I’ve said it all before and it’s not worth it. IT’S JUST NOT!!

We all know that M. Night’s career has been one shit-show-after-another, but at the time of this movie coming out, everybody thought it was his big return to making movies the way he did before. It was rated-R, it was coming out during the summer, and hell, it even had Marky Mark in the lead role, what could possibly not make a comeback occur?!?!? Well, let’s just say a whole lot did, but let’s start off fresh and just go by hitting the buttons with M. Night.

The problems they're running through all goes back to the fact that he won't become a vegan.
The problems they’re running through all goes back to the fact that he won’t become a vegan.

M. Night is a dude that loves his plots, his premises, and his twists, but one thing he does not seem to love so much is what gets him to his passion in the first-place: dialogue. No matter what flick you want to attack, you can’t help but notice that almost all of M. Night’s flicks have a problem with the dialogue, whether it be because nobody sounds like real human-beings, or that the people do sound like real human-beings, but just idiotic ones. Either way, take your pick and you’ll most likely find a little something to make fun of. However, here, you can find almost everything wrong with the dialogue.

Every piece of spoken-line dialogue in this movie is just god-awful, because M. Night does not have a single clue where to pin-point this movie towards. Sometimes it seems like he’s going for a drama; sometimes a comedy; sometimes a dark comedy; sometimes a horror movie; sometimes a thriller; and heck, sometimes even a “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of movie that you would have probably seen in the 50’s, had it been done by Ed Wood or someone of that nature. The guy loses himself, just as much as he loses these “characters”, and during it all; we’re lost and left without a clue as to what to think of this movie. Is it supposed to be serious? Or, just or, is it supposed to be a slightly off-kilter movie that likes to throw in some laughs, along with the terror and dread? We never find those answers, and after awhile; you’ll probably just give up looking for them. They aren’t worth it, especially when you have so much promise like this just thrown to the ground, in hopes that someone will pick it back up.

Problem is, nobody does. Not the actors, nor M. Night himself. Even he seems at a bit of a loss for what to make of this material. The explanation he comes up with for this whole movie/epidemic inside of it, is that it was all caused by the plants. But why did the plants release some sort of toxin into the sky? Oh well, because we, as humans, are threatening our world and make the plants/trees/nature/etc. feel as if they are constantly at a fight so rather than just giving up and dying as we celebrate with our Cadillacs and light-bulbs, they decided to fight back and show us a bit of a warning to fuck our lives up. Yep, that’s right, in case you couldn’t tell where that idea was going, it was actually M. Night himself trying to go for it all by giving us some food-for-thought about our environment, and give us a spin on the whole global warming aspect of today’s economy. A bit risky you might say? Yes, but does it work at all? Fuck no! It’s actually really stupid, and as much as I may agree with what M. Night has to say on some level, I’ll still can’t say I support his decision to be as preachy, as obvious, and as idiotic with his points as he was here.

But no need to fear, Mark Wahlberg’s in this movie and that dude barely ever touches a screenplay that’s shit, right? Well, back in 2008, along with this other “masterpiece”: that was all a bunch of cons and lies. Wahlberg plays Elliott, a high-school science teacher, which, in a way; sort of is a joke in and out of itself. Wahlberg does whatever the hell he can with this character, but the same old mannerisms that the dude has with all of his characters (and sometimes make them so memorable), are what kills him and his character.The guy rambles, talks to trees, acts scared, has a bunch of close-ups on him looking scared, and does nothing else but use that usual, high-pitched voice we all know and maybe, just maybe, love him for. I love him for all that he does, but here, I felt like the dude was really falling-apart and couldn’t help but go along with whatever the hell M. Night threw at him. Sometimes, I don’t think even he knew what the hell to expect, but hey: that’s him, not me. If only I was Marky Mark, though. If only.

"And remember, once you get home and all, make sure to say hello to ya motha's for me."
“And remember, once you get home and all, make sure to say hi to ya motha’s for me.”

However, Marky Mark looks like he’s about to win an Oscar for his work, compared to what Zooey Deschanel brought to the table. Deschanel plays his wife, who’s obviously a bit weird, unhappy, and confused about what she wants, but rather than being Summer, she’s trying to be like Jessica Tandy in a way. That shouldn’t quite matter if the actress who’s channeling that side of her skills, is supremely talented, but Zooey just isn’t. And if she is, well she didn’t show too much of that talent here because every line that came out of her mouth, felt forced and bored, as if Zooey only did this for the money, in hopes that she will one day have that one, big show that’s dedicated to just her, and her hipster-ways.

Oh wait, I think it has happened already. Shit.

Consensus: M. Night fans (I’m joking, right?) might appreciate the promise and the eeriness that stands behind most of the Happening, but for peeps who don’t much care for the guy, and want good stories, with reasonable acting, writing, and direction, will most likely be at a loss for words just by how shitty this movie truly is. Don’t even bother getting drunk or high for this neither, just don’t even bother.

0.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Shit. This is really bad."
“Shit, I thought M. said this was going to be a dark, domestic drama that teaches us the importance of family values and honor.”


  1. Man, that was easily one of the dumbest films I had ever seen. It just gets worse as it went on and I remember the story from an episode of Filmspotting where someone recalled going to a screening of this film w/ a full audience. Man, it was like Mystery Science Theater 3000 where everyone talked during the movie and said all sorts of dumb shit. I think the scene that is a pure example of why Shyamalan isn’t a good filmmakers for actors to work with is where Mark Wahlberg talks to a plant realizing it’s fake and then he’s saying… “Oh my God, I’m still talking to the fake plant.” Shyamalan made Wahlberg look stupid in that scene. I wished that fake plant had said “no shit Einstein. If I was a real plant, I’d kill yo’ ass in a second.”

  2. HAHAH!!! wow. 0.5/10? that might be the lowest rating I’ve ever seen from Dan the Man!!!

    I knew there was a reason I didn’t check this out. I saw the movie poster, saw *maybe* a trailer for this, chuckled for a little while at the extreme level of retardedness apparent, then carried on living my life. Glad to see this review confirms my disdain for this thing

  3. I second Nick’s sentiment. You poor bastard, why would you put yourself through that? lol Time and time again, Shyamalan has proven himself an arrogant hack. I refuse to watch his movies anymore. I don’t care if he does sign up Will Smith. I won’t be viewing that.

    P.S. You mentioned “The Village” in your “Lady in the Water” review, talking about him showing his last signs of being a good storyteller. FYI: The Village was stolen. It’s virtually the same story as a book called “Running Out of Time”. The parts of that movie that sucked storytelling-wise, were the parts that Shyamalan changed and tried to inject with his whole “gotcha” motif.

      • No problem. I think there have been whispers about some of his others being really similar or rip-offs from other works, but I never looked into those in any detail. I just don’t need to know anymore. Hell, don’t need to look past his filmography to realize he’s a fairly incompetent one-trick pony/hack.

  4. Oh dear lord its terrible! What moron thought of the plot, cos the air is the least scary thing ever. Everything is awful, acting, story, dialogue. Heard After Earth getting terrible review mwahahaha!

  5. Have to agree, really couldn’t find anything to like in this film. Mis-Cast, poor acting, poor script and a poor plot. Nature fights back in the wind…… nope not buying that one.

  6. This movie is so bad! But whenever it’s on, I find myself unable to look away. It’s like some awful train wreck that I can’t take my eyes off!

  7. I read a great review of this cinematic disaster, and the best line was this: “Being a fan of M. Night Shyamalan is like being in an abusive relationship; You hope that if you just keep loving him, he’ll stop hitting you.” Ahahahahaha.

  8. A 0.5 is generous! lol. This movie was terrible, I can’t believe I even gave it a chance. Zooey’s performance was probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and I love her. I remember watching an interview with her while she was promoting this, and they played a clip of her in the film, and even she looked embarrassed by it. I hope the paycheck was worth it.

    • I hope so too. Oh well, her and Marky Mark have remained unhurt by it in recent time. Let’s just hope they continue to stay away.

  9. I love ya Dan, but all these M. Night Shamalamadingdong movies in such a short period of time makes you look like a glutton for punishment. 🙂

  10. I was hoping after I left a comment for Lady in the Water that you would agree with me and say The Happening is ONE BIG MESS of a movie. I mean, it’s plain ol’ stupid as you so rightly pointed out. The acting sucks. The plot is unimaginative, uninspiring, without focus and with terrible dialogue. I couldn’t agree with you more. This is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I also gave it a 0.5/5. Only three other movies have gotten such low scores from me.

  11. Yeah. Terrible, awful, horrible, no good, really bad movie. I am generally optimistic and give about anything a chance and I cannot think of a single good thing about this one. Doesn’t lend much hope for After Earth when his directing has been on a complete nose-dive.

  12. Is this a good movie? No. Is it one of the worst movies of all time? Not remotely. I’ve seen hundreds of films that are easily worse than this one. (Try Andy Warhol’s Vinyl – it’s on Youtube – or the 1990s version of the TV show The Avengers some time if you want to see some truly awful “filmmaking”.)

    Overall, I feel he made two really good movies – Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but then the backlash set in and people couldn’t line up fast enough to trash him. I thought The Village was decent, although I figured it out very early on. Lady in the Water wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible, either. Him placing a film critic in it, spouting typical film critic B.S. was an absolute career-killer though.

  13. This really was a horrible movie…people trying to outrun the wind and all other type of crazy stuff….didn’t rate is low as you did, but I can understand your reasoning 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s