‘The Happening’: Being chased by wind and talking to plants marks another low for M. Night

    The hills are alive with the sound of wind, and then... nothing happens.
    The hills are alive with the sound of wind, and then... nothing happens.
    The hills are alive with the sound of wind, and then... nothing happens.

    By the time the protagonists are running from the wind during the climax of  M. Night’s ‘The Happening’ , like some kind of Frankenstein version of The Sound of Music and Twister, there is little left to do but laugh, or cry.

    Or perhaps sit there numbly staring aghast at this disaster of a movie, sadly recalling the talented director’s crowning achievement, ‘The Sixth Sense’ almost 10 years earlier. A director, at the time, with a seemingly unlimited future in film.

    You know you’re in trouble when a movie “jumps the shark” in the opening 30 seconds: raining construction workers fall from high above as co-workers lament the loss is some of the most entertainingly bad acting to grace the big screen.

    But then there is Mark Wahlberg. Eyebrows arched. Barking out his lines in a staccato form as if auditioning for William Shatner 2.0. You’re a dog! Hey, little dog. Say hi to your parents for me. Saturday Night Live material all the way.

    When Wahlberg, playing a confused, reluctant hero I guess, talks to a plant (You’re a plant! Hey, little pant. Say hi to your parents for me), you don’t know if M Night is serious, sarcastic, or just trying some new Shakespearean style horticultural soliloquy.

    You would think it all sounds mildly amusing in a bad, camp movie sort of way. But it’s not. There is an inexplicably tasteless scene towards the end of the film involving a shotgun, a deranged man shuttered in a cabin and young children. It’s another disturbing turn in the movie that can not find the right tone.

    • The Happening (2008)
    • Rating
    • 1 out of 5 stars
    • Tom says:
    • “M. Night lowers the bar yet again. Confusing, boring. Even opportunities for slight amusement are offset by inexplicable violence to children.”
    • Genre
    • Drama, horror
    • Category
    • Movie reviews

    The premise of an unseen, unknown force was done far better in Cloverfield.

    The sub-plots involving a rocky marriage are poorly done, forced and ultimately bland.

    I know M. Night has at least one more classic up his sleeves. Perhaps not on par with ‘The Sixth Sense’, the groundbreaking movie that famously re-invented the twist, but something close to it. I suspect he’s trying too hard, and failing in spectacular, public fashion. Even his directing, known for crafted framing, symbolism and artistic colors is wearing thin. After all, how far can you go with no plot or acting?

    So, in the end the humans defeat the wind. I don’t know how. But everyone seems to live happily every after. Except in France though.

    Je ne sais quoi.

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