Review: The Happening


Director:M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez

Running Time:91.00


Over the last few years, M. Night Shyamalan has gone from innovative filmmaker to overpriced bomb detonator. Peaking in 1999 with The Sixth Sense, anyone and everybody wanted to be part of Shyamalan's create plots and left-field twists. However, the greatness that was The Sixth Sense was short lived as Shyamalan presented back to back disasters with 2004's The Village and 2006's Lady in the Water. But never to fear, the modern master of trickery is back at it again, this time bringing Mark Wahlberg along for a confusing tale of adaption and numbers called The Happening.

Taking place across the Mideast, The Happening follows a group of people as they work to outrun and outwit an unknown airborne virus. Blocking transmitters that keep humans from harming themselves, the virus is a confusing as it is deadly. Is it an act of terrorism or a simply work of nature? Or could it be a karma effect to the way that we have treated our world? Regardless, everyone is thrown for a loop as they must work to make it to safe ground before the virus invades their home.

Tackling the difficult challenge of bringing a Shyamalan character to life is Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg. Tapped as one of the fastest rising stars, Wahlberg worked to show his versatility and ability to carry a film with his take on science teacher Elliot Moore - unfortunately, he failed miserably.

Breaking out in 2006 with his role opposite Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in The Departed, Wahlberg had little to prove and a lot to lose by taking on this role. And though I think that he did a decent job with the dialogue and character that he was given, Wahlberg was unable to really capitalize on the opportunity and become the shining star that he deserves. In short, his timing and delivery were way off, causing the film to hit roadblock after roadblock and never really build a comfortable pace. Because of this the film dragged miserable, ultimately revealing Wahlberg's weakness and inability to shine in any role.

However, Wahlberg looked like a true star next to the disaster that is Zooey Deschanel. Tapped to play an emotionally hidden wife, Deschanel gives a classic Razzie performance as the quiet and awkward Alma Moore. Her delivery and facial expressions were just terrible and played a key part in preventing any chemistry to form between the film's two leads. Combine that with her astonishing ability to overact yet underperform, and Deschanel gives a performance that is so bad that it actually warrant a watch.

As the movie progressed, I quickly began to realize that it wasn't the acting or the characters that really made an M. Night Shyamalan film. Instead, it is the twist and abnormal story - sadly, neither were strong in Shyamalan's effort to stake a comeback, making me think that the director may be out of ideas for his once ingenious films.

For starters, The Happening was expected to be weird. Hell it's an M. Night Shyamalan film. But when the movie reached its final credits and contained no twist or unexpected reason why, I couldn't help but wonder if the man who was known for breaking all the rules had sold out.

Why was the film so safe and why did it stay within the tiny box that Hollywood feels comfortable within? Why were there no strong characters, no interesting story and most importantly, no reason to divulge and discuss the ending?

The film was plain, bland and on the verge of boring, and will quickly become a lost memory amongst the other summer films, many of which are sure fire blockbusters.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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