Ultimately, this movie's heart is in the right place.
This film is horrible and all the extras in the world can't save it.The Happening is one of those films that in different hands may have worked. It tells the tale of the world being attacked by an unknown virus that causes human beings to kill themselves. I could list out more of the story but that is all you need to know. The problem is that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is so proud of what he's achieved in other movies (The Sixth Sense isn't that great folks... however Unbreakable is) that he no longer has a filter. He doesn't seem to be able to tell when he's written something that probably isn't working on the page and then won't work on the screen. It seems that Shyamalan thinks that if he's thought of an idea it is infallible. Once it is on the page he probably feels it is tantamount to something holy, and then when he's on the set he probably can't see that it's not working because he's ensconced in Philadelphia with a bunch of sycophants.
This however is simply my thoughts and maybe I am off base...?
I just cannot believe how terrible this movie was. It's not that I think that Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel are the greatest actors to ever grace the screen, but these are some of the better thespians that this great country has to offer. They are terrible here. It is painful seeing them in various scenes and the John Leguizamo character serves absolutely no purpose. There was a point in this movie where I was on board. I was trying to be into it. From the beginning it chipped away at my faith until I found myself questioning my belief in Shyamalan's ability to create something worth seeing in the future.
There are four of these here and I went into them thinking that maybe they might help explain how this movie became what it did. I thought I might see some scenes that could possibly showcase where the characters and the story were led astray. Sadly, I had no such luck here. I have fully given up on The Happening. All the DVD extras in the world cannot save this release.
Making Of Featurettes
With titles like The Hard Cut, A Day for Night and Elements of a Scene, it is apparent that Fox knows that this release probably isn't going to allow for too many double dips (however Blu-ray disc almost guarantees us one, right?). What is the most amazing thing to me about all these featurettes is how much M. Night's producers and his other partners in crime seem to think that this movie is good. I would love to buttonhole any one of them and seriously ask, "Can you actually tell me that you sat through this movie and thought it was passable?"
"I Hear You Whispering"
This widescreen version looked good but I really can't get too specific. You see, Fox Home Entertainment didn't send me this movie in regular packaging. They sent a burned copy in a paper cover so my knowledge of specs is compromised. I screened this on on my small TV set and everything looked fine. I also spent $10 to see this film in the theater and I genuinely enjoyed the DVD experience a little better.
Again, not having the proper packaging makes writing about the audio a bit hard. I have often written about my crappy 13" TV set that I watch movies on. I have also mentioned that it has one speaker on it. As you can guess I didn't really give this movie the ability to show me just how good the audio could be. Based on where I screened this disc things sounded solid.
As I have stated, Fox Home Entertainment sent no packaging so I really have nothing to say about this portion of the release. I am sure the marketing mavens are going to make things look good however.
Now, before everyone gets all bent out of shape about how hard Mushy is dissing M. Night Shyamalan, you need to understand that I am a fan. Yes, I think that The Sixth Sense is basically Jacob's Ladder. However, I loved Unbreakable, Signs, The Village and I didn't think Lady in the Water was that bad. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing with The Happening. I couldn't fathom that they were making this movie and a major studio like Fox didn't complain about the script, or the fact that the actor's performances were beyond abysmal.
I think that Mr. Shyamalan needs to simply regroup. He needs to sit back and get more perspective. He needs to stop having people kiss his hind tit. He needs them to tell him when he's written something good and when he's missed the mark. It will be painful, he might have a hard time with it, but a return to reality is the only thing that will allow him to capture the zeitgeist again.
The Happening was released June 11, 2008.