Slightly expanded review, mostly a repost from my old Flixster set
Never let it be said that I only blog about movies I like. I do enjoy movies immensely, and so I do go into every one prepared to love it. Why wouldn’t you? Plus, I’ll admit, I’m pretty much a sucker for M. Night Shyamalan – intriguiging stories that are edgy and kind of creepy, and the promise (usually!) of a twist ending? Yep, I’m going.
The trailer for The Happening was wonderfully compelling, and I once again fell victim to watching a movie because I wanted to see if it wrote itself the way *I* would write it. Actually, more to the point, if I can’t come up with a decent ending (read: explanation), I’m all the more intrigued. Incidentally, this is why I was so anxious to see Nicolas Cage’s Knowing, which ended up tanking in a very similar way to The Happening. But I digress….
Unfortunately, the movie itself gave no real direction to the very interesting premise. We simply observed the phenomenon, and we watched the characters simply observe the phenomenon. There really was very little curiosity as to what was going on; it was all about getting away and hiding. The “facts” as we knew them were intermittently and randomly suspended for the purpose of advancing what little plot there actually was, which I suppose only exacerbated the lack of what I would have expected to be honest and “real” reactions to the situation at hand. And the acting itself was honestly terrible, with the possible exception of John Leguizamo, who should have been given more screen time. There was NO chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel; in rewatching various trailers I noticed that even in their brief scenes together it was not at all obvious that they were supposed to be romantically linked. It didn’t improve in the actual film. In fact, their characters were so flat and uninteresting overall that quite frankly I wouldn’t have cared if they lived or died. Not exactly the best way to drum up empathy. But that’s okay, because I also didn’t get a satisfying explanation as to what caused the whole “happening” in the first place. But gee, they did set up the end for a possible sequel! Score! (end sarcasm)
About the only thing this movie managed to do for me was engage my (admittedly sensitive) “freak out” mechanism. In spite of the very disappointing story and the lackluster performances, I still found myself feeling terribly apprehensive at even the slightest breeze and searching the road for dead bodies on the way home. I wonder, though, if that was more of a leftover reaction to the very interesting and engaging trailer which had hooked my attention in the first place, rather than the actual movie itself. Check out the trailer for yourself and perhaps you’ll see what I mean.
If you’re still curious, like I was, at least you can get this movie as a cheap DVD rental instead of paying good money in the theaters. As for me, I think I’m going to go watch The Sixth Sense again.