The Happening (2008)

the happening poster 2008 movie
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10

So-bad-it-is-good; good opening sequence

Everything from story, acting, killer wind

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Happening

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  June 10, 2008 (Premiere)/June 13, 2008 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

the happening suicide jumpers

These guys are too cool for gravity

Something is happening.  A mass of suicides starting in Central Park seems to have no origin and could be tied to some unknown chemical warfare.  As the suicides spread, the danger grows and citizens begin fleeing cities.  Teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) try to escape with their friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), but tragedy strikes.  Now trapped in the infected area, Elliot must lead his loved ones to safety if he hopes survive…but the real danger could be lurking in the wind.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening is a horror thriller.  The movie was critically panned and bombed at the box office.  The movie was nominated for Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Wahlberg who also received a nomination for Max Payne), Worst Screenplay, and Worst Director.

Shyamalan was on a roll.  The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs were strong entries…and then Lady in the Water derailed his streak.  I had hoped the R-Rated The Happening would be a smart, taut thriller, but instead it turned into one of the best comedies of the year.

the happening betty buckley

After 8 kids, Betty Buckley decides Eight Is Enough

The film starts out great.  The Central Park sequence and the people jumping off the buildings is horrifying.  In the age of terrorist attacks, it feels real and visceral…and then Mark Wahlberg shows up.  The story abruptly turns from a tight thriller to a meandering goofy movie marked with horrible scenes of suicide (like people getting run over by lawnmowers and sawing through their wrists with dull glass).  It is a humanity vs nature storyline which is positive but the deadly “wind” might as well be as threatening as a fart.  Plus, I don’t know many people who can outrun wind, but they do it a lot in this film.

I don’t know what movie Mark Wahlberg was starring in, but it wasn’t The Happening.  His line delivery and reactions to the horrors around him are nonsensical.  I can’t tell if he’s badly acting a smart character or if his character is one of the dumbest people in the movie (the interaction with the crazy Betty Buckley is example enough).  Normally I like Zooey Deschanel, but she too seems to struggle with the line delivery.  I don’t know if it is Shyamalan’s directing, but all the actors seem totally out of sorts (maybe they are all under the influence of “the happening” through the whole movie).

the happening mark wahlberg zooey deschanel

I’d really like Rerun to jump out and yell “What’s Happening!!”

As mentioned, the visuals of the movie are less than compelling.  Much like Netflix’s Bird Box, the “creatures” aren’t visible and the attacks are pretty arbitrary as a result.  The deaths are horrific and don’t fit the tone of the storytelling (like the deaths of the two young guys fleeing with Wahlberg and Deschanel).  There are some nice locations, but it doesn’t pay off due to the poor nature of the story.

The Happening is potentially worse than you’d expect.  I don’t understand how Shyamalan made a movie so bad after some great movies.  I don’t understand how the actors could have said “this is going great” as they were making the film, and I don’t know who convinced executives that the movie deserved a wide release.  Watch The Happening for the humor (essentially it is Birdemic with a budget)…that is about all it is good for.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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