This picture should look familiar. And, man, I can’t tell which movie’s founding concept was utilized worse.
It isn’t that the entire concept is even that good, but it could have at least tried to redeem the price of admission by being entertaining. You know, maybe it could have had some credible dialogue or some believable acting. Anywhere. Maybe they could have bothered to make any tiny little part of the entire movie make sense. Instead, we got nothing. Nothing. This, is, apparently, what the scraps left over from a rigorous bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping session look like.
I’ve avoided the last few M. Night Shyamalan movies on purpose (Signs being the most recent I’d seen), and am quite happy to not have watched that gradual decline in quality if they led to this garbage. At least Signs had some great characters that lent a serious air of believability to a very silly concept. But when I heard the new low Shyamalan had reached with The Happening, I just had to see it for myself.
The concept isn’t great, but if it toned itself down a bit it could have been fun. My summer allergies have flared up recently, so I would have understood watching a killer pollen at work. But we get a 100% lethal “toxin” that the weather insists upon blowing towards human presences (The tree-controlled legions of electric fans didn’t make it into the Byting Reviews picture, but yes – apparently every facet of nature was joined together in harmony to try and kill people in one specific part of the world). And it isn’t even poisonous – this airborne toxin doesn’t kill anyone outright. It makes people kill themselves, but apparently you’d be pretty safe if you locked yourself into a good set of soft restraints. The people with access to rooftops, cars, and guns are less lucky.
As an aside, that boom mic is a tribute to a frequent thorn in the sides of M. Night moviegoers (Ranging back at least to The Village) – apparently, Shyamalan uses some uncommon framing style that theater projectionists don’t realize they need to frame differently than other movies. So your odds on seeing frequent boom mic shots at your own theater’s showing depends on the competence of your projectionist (Which, yeah, is that guy who is more concerned with selling you a bigger bag of popcorn thanks to the theater management) and if anyone’s complained about it yet. I couldn’t see a boom mic anywhere, because my theater had the film set up properly. Too bad, I’d have laughed harder otherwise. The internet informs me that this phenomenon is not a rare fluke (And my brother saw it for himself), so into the comic it goes.
It’s astonishing how wrong every assumption this movie makes is (From the crazy, unmourned and undisputed replacement of a girl’s parents with Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel right on up to the conclusion that killer plants will make humans treat plants better. Sorry, I saw too many plant-loving tree-huggers die to swallow that one). One of the major proving points is that, at the beginning of the movie, the main character (A science teacher) teaches his class that sometimes things just happen in nature that can never be explained. The movie is an incomprehensible mess. There isn’t a single piece of good dialogue.
If I had to show you a single scene from the movie to get you to understand what’s wrong with the movie, I’d show you the one where the protagonists are running across a field, trying to get away from the wind while ripples of blowing grass creep closer and closer. That must have been a bitch to set up or add with CG, and it was all for nothing because the very idea is so fucking retarded. How did people keep from laughing in Shyamalan’s face when he described that scene? “Ok, so, get this, I need enough wind to blow the grass over, really flatten it out, and that visual effect needs to creep up slowly on Wahlberg while he runs away across a field. Not a breeze, now! WIND. I need it to look WINDY, or else people won’t get that there are toxins in the air that can somehow be brought to Wahlberg through the air. But don’t bring the wind up on Wahlberg too fast! We have to make it feel like maybe he’ll outrun it.”
Terrible. The film has no resolution, no payoff, no peak of intensity, no crescendo… truly, this is a movie that is just there, as the title implies. The only thing the movie successfully does is hit us over the head with references to humanity’s crappiness. It may be rated R, but this movie is not scary or disturbing in the slightest. Nor is there any gore, save for a couple of “red mist” moments, pooled blood, and someone with glass shards stuck in their head. Whoops, that last one might count as “gore”; I was mighty bored and pissed by that point in the movie so it didn’t really stand out as anything special.