So, I saw The Happening all by my lonesome and actually was freaked out by M. Night’s first, R-rated film. Not a bad movie, but not one of M. Night’s best.
Synopsis (without giving away the twist): Something is happening. The end. Seriously though, something is happening that is making rational human beings lose their minds and kill themselves in very, violent ways. Two teachers (Mark Walberg and John Leguizamo), a dippy woman (Zooey Deschanel), and a cute little girl (Ashley Sanchez) must escape and hide until whatever is happening, stops happening.
Okay, being elusive doesn’t make it seem all that exciting. Let’s just say the cause of the happening is not only freaky, but in my mind kind of plausible. M. Night again, has caused me to re-examine human nature and it’s impact on the environment. But, I’ve said too much already, so let’s stick to what you’ve already seen in the previews.
Preview Spoiler #1: “It’s raining construction workers!” This scene (along with another which I will get to shortly) made the entire movie. The fear in that constrution worker’s eyes, the sight of those workers falling, and the sound (which you only get in the movie) is absolutely unnerving. I’m usually not a jumper or a speak-out-louder, but I jumped and said rather loudly, “Dear God!”
Preview Spoiler #2: “This hairpin looks so good in my neck.” Eh. It was freakier in the preview, but after seeing the preview eleventy billion times I was bored when she actually did it.
Preview Spoiler #3: Floating lawn workers. I’m getting chills just thinking about this again. Actually, they aren’t floating. The scene is shot from a moving jeep through the windshield. These guys have actually hung themselves with their own garden hoses and the jeep is driving underneath them. Wow. The most moving and haunting scene in the whole movie happens right after.
Preview Spoiler #4: “Oh, look! A lion!” Cheesy with a capital CH! Come on, M. Night! You’re better than slash and gore, horror flicks. Leave crap like this to the amateurs.
Preview Spoiler #5: “It’s such a nice day that I think I’ll mow myself.” See above comment.
Preview Spoiler #6: “Mommy, there’s a creepy woman looking in my window.” Eh. When I found out why she was looking in the window (here’s a clue: it “happened” to her), the scene fell flat.
Why wasn’t this one of M. Night’s best flicks? Plot holes and cheesy dialogue. My personal favorite: The Village. The plot is so well crafted that I believed right up until she jumped the hedge. And, If you think I’m stupid for not seing the ending coming, than you’re too smart to be reading this blog.
The Happening. Wanted to believe, but there were too many holes that kept me questioning the intergrity of the story. How did the people who survived, survive? Why did it just stop? How did it stop? Did it actually stop? Instead of answering these questions, the movie tries to divert attention away with superfluous dribble. I don’t care that Mark’s fiance has commitment issues that take the near extinction of the human race to fix. I don’t care that there is a family of hillbillies who will shoot anyone who tries to take shelter in their home. I don’t care why the creepy, hermit woman keeps a decaying doll on her bed. Stop trying to make me look over here, while you try to piece together the plot.
Where’s there’s drivel, bad dialogue is sure to follow. Even an actor with superb skills, would have to work overtime to deliver some of the cheesiness written here. We’re talking about Mark Walberg and John Leguizamo here. Don’t get me wrong. They’re good, but they ain’t no Deniro, or Hoffman, or even Hopkins. Downright clunky in places, the dialogue stops anyone from loosing themselves in the story.
Since we’re talking about actors, Zooey (how the hell do you say that?) delivers a good performance, adding a bit of comic relief in a tense situation. For what it’s worth, John did good job with the script that was handed to him. And Mark, well, he’s Marky Mark how can you not love him. Yeah, sometime his delivery falls flat, but a good director should be able to fix that. So, I guess the real person to blame for this movie’s shortcomings is M. Night himself. Writing and directing can take a lot out of a man. Maybe, he should just stick to one.
All in all, good premise and two amazing scenes.