The Happening

2oth Century Fox

Plot: A science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Deschanel) leave Philadelphia and go on the run from an apocalyptic crisis that is killing everyone in its path, making its way through the Northeast.

Who’s It For? If you are a die-hard M. Night Shyamalan fan, then no matter what I say, you’re seeing this flick. Even though this is a horror film, and there are some disturbing images, most of the violence and gore is left to the imagination.

Expectations: I was hoping. That’s all I could muster for M. after Lady in the Water and The Village.

SCORECARD (1-10)

Actors:
Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore: It just didn’t fit. Elliot is a do-gooder, and that goes along with Wahlberg’s personality, but a science teacher? Every time he went off on some tangent, he lost me.
Score: 5

Zooey Deschanel as Alma Moore: Quirky. That’s the one-word explanation of Deschanel. She’s got the big-eyes that are perfect for a horror film, but the flighty personality doesn’t fit here, unlike it Elf. It took her an hour to tell Elliot she was scared. Really? After a couple hundred deaths? Shocking.
Score: 3

Talking: Elliot gives hints of scientific reasons for the catastrophic death tolls, but then always covers it with, “But we never really know about nature,” or something like that. The film tries to have it both ways. Beyond that, all of the fun, quirky dialogue fails.
Score: 2

Sights & Sounds: Can nature be scary? That’s the attempt here, but most of the time it’s interesting, just not scary. When construction workers fall from a building, when people calmly walk toward a gun, you aren’t gripping your seat or the person next to you.
Score: 6

PLOT SPOILERS

Best Scene: I wish I could say one of the death scenes, but it seems all of them were hampered with bad overacting (good overacting can exist in comedies). Elliot talking to a plant, then realizing he was talking to a plant, then continuing to talk to a plant was one of the few amusing moments.

Ending: I didn’t need the “3 months later” ending, especially since they didn’t give a concrete explanation (not that I wanted or needed one).

Questions: After the train was stopped and everyone went to a diner, how did they all have cars to get away? Why did every person who Elliott and Alma encountered turn out to be crazy?

OVERALL

It’s a great idea. A silent, unknown killing machine knocking people off while a science teacher tries to figure out why. But the application of this idea just didn’t work. It became curious at best and rarely the R-rated horror fest M. Night Shyamalan was expected to release. Wahlberg, Deschanel and the entire cast seem out of place, not knowing how to react to the breeze that was killing everyone. Shyamalan’s last six films have him at 3-3, but he is also going on a three-film losing streak.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

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