Isaacs Picture Conclusions

SHITFEST 2014: WINTER ~ THE HAPPENING (2008)

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BY:

ROBLOGO

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Spoilers for numerous movies here – don’t say you weren’t warned 🙂

When I first heard about Shitfest a few months ago, I couldn’t understand the concept of why anyone would purposely see a movie they though was a massive pile of manure again in order to rant about it.  As many of you who know me already know, I love to watch movies and will watch as many as I can, whenever I can.  So I once again asked myself the same question:

Why watch a shitty movie again?

The answer is simple; You just have to find a movie so shitty, it’s just funny to even think that people spent time and money making it.  THATS the kind of movie meant for Shitfest (at least that’s what I think.  Am I right Eric?) (ED: YEP!!!)

I spent a lot of time trying to think of the right movie to rant about.  There are tons of movies that I’ve seen that I hated, but most of them were incredibly boring and that would just be pointless to re-watch them again because if I fell asleep watching them a second time, I’d have to watch it a 3rd time in order to try and rant about them.

So I started going through my list of movies that I rated on IMDB over the last 16 years and still was having trouble finding a movie I hated enough to the point that I’d be inclined to re-watch it just because it was laughably terrible.

And then I hit the jackpot….. The Happening (2008) from M. Night Shyamalan

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We were all introduced to this boy genius (or so we thought) who had a name no one could pronounce back in 1999, he had made a small flick by the name of The Sixth Sense (1999) with a cute boy haunted by something that he wouldn’t reveal to us or to anyone else.  That reveal came half-way through the movie that he see’s dead people who need his help.  He is cleverly aided by Bruce Willis as a child psychologist (cast definitely against type here..and it actually worked) who inexplicably only speaks to him and never touches him or anyone else.  The big reveal at the end is that Willis is also dead.  This twist ending caught just about everyone by surprise (anyone that is who didn’t hear it from others) and M. Night was hailed as an amazing breakthrough film maker.  He even got an Oscar nomination for Director and the movie for Picture that year)

His next movie was Unbreakable (2000) which also featured Willis was about an ordinary man who is a plausible modern day superhero.  Willis is mentored by a creepy Samuel L. Jackson in the ways of how to use his powers (sorta like a modern day Yoda…or so we thought).  The twist there was that Jackson was Willis arch-enemy who manipulated events in order to find his heroic nemesis.  Once again M. Night was hailed as a great film maker for finding a powerful twist in the end of his movie.

Since then, it has all been downhill for him.

None of his next 3 movies were very successful [Signs (2002), The Village (2004) and Lady in the Water (2006)] on their own merit and they only made money because the name M. Night was attached and each had some kind of “twist” at the end.  Every viewer went to the theater just to see what that “twist” ending would be.  It turned into a gimmick that was just blown way out of proportion.

In 2008, M. Night was back again and this time, he really just crossed the line.  He made a movie called the Happening (2008) and after 90 minutes run time is over, you are still waiting for something….anything to happen.

This movie should have been renamed The Nothing’s Happening or When the Fuck is Something Going to Finally Happen?

The 4 main characters (played by Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo and Ashlyn Sanchez) just move from place to place saying crazy things and doing nothing.

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Yes, for lovers of the horror genre, there are some gruesome deaths; death by knitting needles, glass windows, lawnmowers, guns, silly car crashes and even mass suicide by running off of a building.

The problem here is that there is nothing coherent here, nothing consistent in the storyline and ultimately even by the end, nobody understands what happened or even why. (and we don’t care either).

Is this a movie about being more environmental friendly?  is it a horror movie like The Birds (1963)? is it all a dream? is it just a way for M. Night to pay off his gambling debts?

Who knows and who really fuckin cares???

We are introduced to characters who might be interesting and then without knowing enough about them, they are gone.  Even the characters we should care about (the 4 main) aren’t even remotely developed and we just want them to also die just like every other cookie-cutter character.

The main actors are sometimes parts of large groups (which they say causes the trees to attack) and they are fine, but in other scenes, they are separated and the trees still attack.  These plot inconsistencies make us wonder what was going through M. Night’s mind (perhaps not much, or maybe that’s just the ominous wind going through his mind that personifies the evil mother nature from the movie taking it’s vengeance on humans in the Northeastern US only – silly if you ask me) when he thought of this.

I am actually shocked that Wahlberg, Deschanel and Leguizamo didn’t take the time to read the script before agreeing to be in it.  Wahlberg has stated that he actually regretted taking that job.

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(Here’s a photo of Wahlberg trying to understand the script)

This movie was panned by so many respected reviewers that I feel the need to add some of their comments here just to show that at least there’s a consistency somewhere related to this terrible movie; that it sucks donkey.

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“This film is so bad that I feel compelled to make a spoiler-laden list of its most laughably terrible parts rather than review it. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, The Happening, is not merely bad. It is an astonishment, so idiotic in conception and inept in execution that, after seeing it, one almost wonders whether it was real or imagined.” –Christopher Orr, The New Republic, 2008

“If Shyamalan wanted to commit career suicide he couldn’t have chosen a more likely vehicle than this laugh inducing ‘thriller.'” – Richard Knight, Jr., Windy City Times

“You feel like you’re not watching the end of the world but the end of a career.”- Boston Globe, 2008

The Happening is a movie to walk out of, sleep through, or – best of all – not to bother with. “-James Berardinelli, 2008

“A disappointingly slight offering from a filmmaker that we know is capable of so much more. Shyamalan says that The Happening was his easiest film to shoot. Sadly, it shows.”- Empire Magazine, 2008

“If what audiences are looking for is a thrill ride, or even a pervasive eeriness, The Happening‘s just not happening.”- NPR, 2008

The Happening makes you wonder whether Mr. Shyamalan’s own switch may have been flipped. How else to explain his film’s befuddling infelicities, insistent banalities, shambling pace and pervasive ineptitude? “- Wall Street Journal, 2008

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(Here’s the whole cast praying to god that they will at least get paid for making this turkey)

In short, this movie was the point where we all could finally just give up on hoping that M. Night would return to form.

He just finally lost it and hasn’t been even close to getting it back again. His two movies that came out after this one [The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013)] at least had a point to them, even though they didn’t work well.

This one has no point at all except to drive the viewer to the brink of contemplating suicide like the characters in the movie.

98 comments

  1. It is difficult to say which is his worst film but this is definitely up there. Or ‘down there’, depending how you look at it. I think I laughed all the way through.

    Lady in the Water is my personal Shyamalan top turkey.

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  2. Tom

    haha good review Rob, I almost am tempted to check this out to understand its true shittiness. Just checked it out on RT, and I’m really speechless seeing that Richard Roeper, a critic I normally trust, gave it a positive review. Hmmm………….his credibility just tanked similarly to Shamaylan’s, if this movie is indeed this atrocious. 😉

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  3. I remember watching this thinking it started off well, wondering why these people were killing themselves and thinking of all these cool ideas why it was all happening and then they revealed it was nature. NATURE! THE WIND! From then on it was just hilarious, you can see Mark Wahlberg had no idea what to do with the script and it shows on his face. Terrible, terrible movie. Good review though.

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  4. Oh man. This film is so delightfully terrible. M Night is utterly incompetent at the moment. I think he has been replaced by a doppelganger. Like that time that there were two Undertakers in WWF, one with the Million Dollar Man and one with Paul Bearer and they had to fight at Summerslam to see who the real Undertaker was. Fuck I hope someone out there watches wrestling so they have some idea what I’m rambling about.

    But yeah, The Happening is dire. I live tweeted it once. The comedy wrote itself.

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  5. LOL. Well done, Rob! This was cracking me up–particularly your proposed alternate titles or the idea that Shyamalan made this to pay off gambling debts. The latter would explain a lot. Haven’t seen this one, and I don’t plan to change that. I pretty much gave up hope for Shyamalan after The Village. Eric: “Shyamalanadingdong.” Lololololol.

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    • I use to swear much more before I had 4 little ones wandering around, so whenever I get the chance I just let em rip (kinda like a form of Tourette’s I guess) 🙂

      Speaking of that, I recently just saw the LA Law Tourette’s clip 🙂

      So Eric isn’t a bad influence on me, but I used Shitfest as an excuse to let it all out.

      Trust me, I’m not as prudish as you may think 🙂

      I’m flattered that you think I was T9M 🙂

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