Sunday, March 19, 2017


Welcome to another installment of the TRASH BIN, where we watch the worst movies Hollywood has to offer, according to the critics, and give you our thoughts, good or bad. This week I’ll be taking a look at one of the most infamous bad movies from recent years…THE HAPPENING.

Director M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 feature, The Happening, is one of the most infamously terrible films in recent memory. The film tells a story where a group of people from New York are on the run from some mysterious force that is causing people to go crazy and kill themselves. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, and Betty Buckley.

Let’s get this out of the way from the start: this is an awful movie. From start to finish it is poorly scripted, has a really strange off-putting tone, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There is next to nothing positive to say but, for the sake of review, I think that the film largely has decent camera work, the sets were nice and managed to be eye catching, and the film has a lot of unintentional comedy that makes it easy to sit through.

Shyamalan is a talented director. There is no way around that or he couldn’t have made brilliant movies like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Some of that talent shows on the fringes of this film. Akin to most of his work during the “bad years,” The Happening still looks like a real honest to goodness movie. Perhaps that is why this film has the infamous reputation that it does. If this didn’t look and feel like a movie it would be a forgettable B (or maybe C or D) movie that people could turn on and get a kick out of. It isn’t that and that’s a positive in a way because of its production competence.

Outside of a competent production this film is a horrifying mess. The performances are awful, the story makes almost no sense, the film doesn’t know what tone it is trying to strike, and you don’t feel the impact of anything going on because you don’t care about or for any of the characters in the story.

Without question this is a real stain on the generally praised careers of Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. They both come off as a combination of bland and absurd that doesn’t work to further this as the kind of horror/thriller the film sort of purports to be. They don’t feel like people in any way. They’re these weirdly written constructs that consistently raise an eyebrow about what is going on.

Additionally, this story really doesn’t make any sense. There are so many plot conveniences put in there to keep things moving but that undermine the point. Further, there are other strands that get totally left to the wind (so to speak) and stand as unresolved questions at the end of the film. Coupling this with an inability to define a tone really limits the films ability to be effective. There are moments in this film that should be truly horrifying but because they’re played off of terrible moments that verge on comedy their robbed of any impact. As such, the movie lacks ANY tension which makes this a huge failure as a horror/thriller.

To fail so demonstrably is one thing, but to do so when you have a competent filmmaker, solid actors, and a concept that has been done before to solid effect shows how much this film belongs in the depths of the trash bin, never to be seen again. You might get a laugh out of this, but you’ll hate it considering what the film is attempting to accomplish. Thank goodness Shyamalan has gotten his mojo back.

Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Metacritic: 34%

Ryan’s Score: 1.5/10

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