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The Happening: So. . . That Happened

The best part of going to see The Happening was getting to watch the X-Files movie trailer — which is way more chilling on the big screen than it is on YouTube. Can't wait for that one! As for M. Night Shyamalan's latest spookfest, well, as Alec Baldwin's character Bob Barrenger remarks after a car crash in State and Main, "So. . . That happened."

The movie has been getting poor reviews, and even Shyamalan himself is calling it "the best B-movie you'll see," so I didn't go into the screening with the assumption that The Happening would be a masterpiece. And it's not that bad; it's no Jumper, say. It just gives us nothing whatsoever to care about. At all. It's empty and kinda silly and the acting is not good. There's a mystery to solve, which is interesting for a short time, but when it gets solved, the explanation for the mystery is pretty freaking lame. For more on this,


The story begins with a series of New York City-set scenes in which people randomly stop what they're doing and slowly, deliberately find ways to kill themselves. The newscasters claim that the mass suicides are a result of a chemical toxin in the air, and soon the same thing starts happening in other parts of the northeast, always starting in parks and other green, leafy areas. The main characters we're following through this ordeal are Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and Elliott (Mark Wahlberg), currently experiencing some marital discord. Elliott and Alma escape Philadelphia along with Elliott's colleague Julian (John Leguizamo) and Julian's young daughter Jess. Then, the majority of the movie consists of watching the many creative ways people find to kill themselves (which is legitimately disturbing), and waiting for the main characters to either A) find a way to escape/outsmart/defy the toxin, or B) get killed by the toxin.

Parts of the movie are chilling like a slasher flick, that fun-scary way that innocently tingles the spine because we know it's just spooky entertainment. Overall, though, The Happening leaves this terrible, uneasy feeling because it's not done well enough to take very seriously, and yet, there's nothing "fun-scary" about suicide. It's just bleak and horrifying, and juxtaposed with such a flimsy story, the result is merely frustrating.

At the heart of the whole thing is Mark Wahlberg, who should probably not be trusted to carry a movie like this. His one facial expression of perplexity and concern and his but-I'm-so-baffled voice are like cartoon impressions of baffled, concerned people. Especially in scenes with John Leguizamo (who manages to imbue the film with a decent dose of reality), the differences between the two actors are like night and day. Namely, one is good in his role, and the other is not. I like Wahlberg in The Departed, I Heart Huckabees and of course in Boogie Nights, and maybe the problem lies in Shyamalan's script but whatever the reason, Wahlberg is a huge part of why I dislike this movie.

You know what M. Night Shyamalan work I really enjoyed (in addition to The Sixth Sense)? That commercial he made for American Express. The full version of that commercial is two minutes long. If you play that about 49 times, it's possible you'll feel more satisfied than you do after sitting through The Happening.

To see the trailer and more clips from The Happening, visit

Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Join The Conversation
seeinpink seeinpink 9 years
Thanks for the best review of this movie I've read yet. I saw it unfortunately, and you really hit the nail on the head. I finally realized why it didn't work but couldn't put it into words, so thanks. Haha.
nikecold nikecold 9 years
It sucked it wasn't even teh fact that the plot was lacking, that's normal in these types of movies. It was just all gore, and like buzz said in a way that was disturbing (and I don't feel disturbed by movies like this easily). Its seemed more painful than Hostel and Saw movies, I guess because you always knew what was coming (suicide). I really can't explain, but that wasn't even the worst part the worst parto to me was the bad performances and the bad writing. The characters were so bland and boring and Mark sounded like those Kids Tv show hosts, teh wasy he said each line was so fake it was like mocking a cheesy Hallmark card. Zooey's character was just disturbing in so many different levels, that is by far one of the stupidest characters I've seen in movies, it was just bad ...and just like Mark Whalberg her acting annoyed me. But the difference lies in the fact that Mark is at least a hunk and was so bad it was slightly funny, but Zooey just plain sucked and her chracter sucked just as bad. And the lines they had to say? WTF? It struck me like a movie I made in highschool which we never had time to edit, it just sucked and seemed unpolished, the chracters were stupid and underdeveloped and they just seemed like straight out drama queens to me. It was like everything that happened in the movies was greeted with the same lousy frown and sappy attitude.And the whole thing with Joey and Alma? WTH? Sorry I just had to vent. LOL
Imabeliever Imabeliever 9 years
I can almost always find something redeeming in an M Night movie..a bad M Night movie can still kiss the butt of some other for the masses top box office flicks I wouldn't waste my life on. I loved Unbreakable (the 2nd time I watched it), loved Signs, loved The Village. And I actually laughed out loud everytime Paul Giamani had to go back to the Asian mother and her party daughter for more information (Mr. Heep, my mom told me more of the story before she threw a cushion at me) in Lady in the Water.. I always thought his movies were thinking man movies.. there are layers.. meanings under meanings.. you can watch them over and over and come awa with something new LOL! He makes me think of a more elegant David Lynch. I really want to see this but the so far the babaysitter has been busy.. I might turn the hubby into the babysitter and see it alone if I have to. And trees or plants releasing a toxin that could have a seriously negative effect on humans is not completely looney tunes.. think about plants that generate highly toxic and fatal chemicals to protect themselves from predators, venus fly traps, even trees that once "attacked" send a chemical warning (scream) through the air to other surrounding trees who then chemically react to protect themselves... plants evolve to their environment..improving themselves.. protecting themsleves.. it is not completely out there that they could create a toxin that could be airbourne.. its effect.. who knows?
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
This move was so awesome! Finally!!! An original screenplay!
fireyelectra fireyelectra 9 years
It's almost as though no one even tried in the making of this film. No one tried to make a coherent story, no one tried to create actual suspense, no one tried to act. I'm frankly amazed at how unpolished this was, especially because Shamyalan actually has a vision and a point of view as a director, and Deshanel and Wahlberg are actually decent, talented actors. Why'd they all decide to give up in unison on this film?
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 9 years
I can always find something to like about all of M. Night's movies. I won't admit to being thoroughly impressed with all of them (except The Sixth Sense). I still plan to check out The Happening even though reviews weren't that good.
yadiet yadiet 9 years
I saw this movie on saturday night and it was horrible. The best part was watching the preview for The X Files.
sydneyalias sydneyalias 9 years
While I agree with Buzz and some of the others, there were parts where the acting was terrible (especially Wahlberg), the movie was pretty entertaining and had some funny and very creepy parts. It is very disturbing throughout with the suicides and a very creepy lady at the end. Honestly she was the creepiest part! Overall, it might not be worth the ticket price, but it's entertaining for a rental.
emalove emalove 9 years
This is easily one of the worst films I have ever watched. The writing, the acting, the plot...all were terrible. I was beyond disappointed, as I am a HUGE Shyamalan fan, love every other movie he's made. I also adore Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg. I wasn't expecting to be so bummed about this movie.
elramos elramos 9 years
I thought everyones acting was horrible but I realized it was actually the writing. I don't know if the writing is supposed to be that bad or he just cant write a decent script. As the movie goes on you can tell its more of the writing than the acting. It was just a bad movie but I knew that from the trailer, however I was dragged to it by my boyfriend.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 9 years
i saw it, and while it wasnt that great, or good, i love zooey deschanel. love love love her. her parts had me and my boyfriend cracking up! and the idea isnt thaaat far out there, sort of make you think. sort of, for a few seconds.
Jess8902 Jess8902 9 years
Not to be the hippie in the group but at what point do we start to actually consider that this may not be so far out there? We're kicking the Sh** out of the planet and sure,, "stay ahead of the wind" is ridiculous, but there is a moral lesson. "the trees are making us kill ourselves" Right, b/c actually the trees are worthless anyway, right?
clareberrys clareberrys 9 years
i saw this opening night and i really considered walking out...many other people in the theater did. but i was thinking OK maybe something great will happen and it will get better...but NO. IT WAS SO BAD! I would recommend that no one pay $10 to see this movie...NOT WORTH IT!!! I would have rather seen DOn't mess with the Zohan.....I LOVE Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel but their acting sucked and this was not the right movie for them......this was just ridiculous THE TREES ARE MAKING US KILL OURSELVES!!!!!!
sonnabobble sonnabobble 9 years
i saw it last night and i agree with jess8902. i definately liked the village and sixth sense better, but it was more entertaining than lady, signs, and unbreakable. the ending was a little disappoining, but i was still into it.
kcwebgirl kcwebgirl 9 years
my fav mks movie is wide awake. a young julia stiles and the most adorable kid ever! i want to see the movie but am scared. maybe i can watch through my fingers? i'm such a scary. haha.
Jess8902 Jess8902 9 years
OK I saw this last night and I thought it was great. Mark Wahlberg as the "so hot I don't know it" Absentminded professor was funny! And the plastic plant scene? "I'm still doing it." It's no Signs for sure but he may never get back to that. I thought it was funny. and jumped a few times. Zooey was awesome. I dunno, I was entertained.
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 9 years
I can't think of one decent Shyamalan flick other than the Sixth Sense. How is this guy still able to make movies? I won't be going to see this movie, which is a shame, because I really like Zooey Deschanel. Maybe I'll catch it when it eventually comes on HBO or something, but I'm definitely not paying to see this in a movie theatre.
Juiceee Juiceee 9 years
Completely agree with loveleighdancer. This movie was one of the WORST this year. And yes, worse than Jumper.
loveleighdancer loveleighdancer 9 years
Yeah I just got back from the theater and that movie was horrible. The acting was horrible, everything that happened was stupid, ugh the only thing was decent was some of the creepy ways that people killed themselves. I don't get why people keep letting him make movies. I loved The Sixth Sense and Signs, but The Village, that was the biggest piece of crap I've ever seen. I didn't give The Lady In The Water a chance. I thought though from the commercials with this movie it could be good. I was so wrong. Next time he makes a movie I am not watching it until it's on DVD or on a movie channel. They have just gone down hill. What's even funnier is that my boyfriend and one of our guy friends said they would have rather seen SATC!!! hahahaha that made my day and I wish we had gone and seen that instead...
northofantastic northofantastic 9 years
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that AmEx commercial! Thanks for the reminder. :D
Mariana48 Mariana48 9 years
wow i watched this movie today and... it really sucks, like badly! i love zooey, but her performance was really embarrasing, it was just the worst movie by Shyamalan, and he's had his fair share of bad movies... really dissapointing
em113 em113 9 years
My friends tried to convince me to go to this movie and I refused because I haven't heard a single positive thing about it. I've been receiving texts all night asking me for spoilers to put them out of their misery. I've also been told the acting is so bad it seems like a joke. Needless to say I'm glad I didn't go!
ehadams ehadams 9 years
I saw all his other movies in the theater, but he has hurt me too many times. I might rent it though. His ego is just getting ridiculous. Maybe if he stuck to one hat (ie directing) instead of writing, directing, producing, and throwing lame caemos of himself in the movies, they'd turn out better.
wicca_08 wicca_08 9 years
I'll probably watch this. I watched The Village and The Sixth Sense; but not Lady in the Water.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
fleurfairy is right, they're beautifully done. But being pretty isn't enough, I want a decent ending. His "twists" aren't twists anymore. Swing away, my back side.
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