The Happening (2008)
The Happening is a 2008 psychological thriller film written, co-produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and Betty Buckley. An Indian-American production, the film follows a group of four as they try to escape an inexplicable natural disaster. The film is Shyamalan's first and so far only film to receive an R rating. It had its premiere in New York City on June 10, 2008, and was later released on June 13, 2008, in North America.
Not to be confused with the 1967 Mafia comedy film of the same name.
An apocalyptic threat to humanity arrives out of the clear blue sky with a series of violent, inexplicable deaths spreading across the country. The cause of the terrifying phenomenon remains unknown, prompting science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and his colleague Julian (John Alberto Leguizamo) to try to elude the invisible killer in Pennsylvania's farmland. Soon it becomes clear that no one is safe.
- The plot twist - that plants are causing people to commit suicide via spores - is ridiculous and makes no sense. It is quite possibly one of the dumbest movie plot threads in history.
- People committing suicide without explanation is supposed to be scary, but the extremely over-the-top ways in which they do it is hard to take seriously.
- The dialogue is stilted, bizarre and often laughable.
- The film is over-reliant on exposition, which is delivered in the most blatant way possible.
- Terrible cinematography: a few shots are poorly framed, and a couple of times, the boom mic is visible in the shot.
- Terrible directing and acting, particularly from Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, who look and act like lifeless mannequins.
- No one reacts realistically to the terrible things happening around them.
- The film tries to deliver a message about humanity's effect on their surroundings, but it's hard to take seriously, given the ridiculous plot twist.
- The scene where Elliot, Alma and Jess are saved from the toxins by the power of love is undermined by a dubbed-in voiceover of Elliot saying the event ended before they went outside.
- It continued the decline of M. Night Shyamalan's career, following the failure of Lady in the Water and culminating with The Last Airbender.
- What kind of name is "The Happening", anyway? What is happening? Thus, it ain't "happening".
- The movie could actually be scary if you remove the part about the plants causing mass suicides.
- The movie's overall tone is unintentionally humorous.
- The movie's title is very accurate, things do in fact happen in the movie.
- Great score of James Newton Howard.
- Some of the lines are unintentionally funny (most notably Wahlberg's "What? NO!" line).
The Happening received mostly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 17% of 183 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.04/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Happening begins with promise, but unfortunately descends into an incoherent and unconvincing trifle.". On Metacritic, it got a 34 critic score with a 5.7 user rating, and a 5.0 on IMDB. The film was nominated for four Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Mark Wahlberg (also for Max Payne), Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for M. Night Shyamalan.