So I decided to work my way through all of M. Night Shyamalan's terrible movies in honor of the fact that he was TOTALLY INVISIBLE on the After Earth marketing materials. The last one I hadn't seen was The Happening, and I decided to liveblog it, just for fun. Aaaand away we go!
Wow, this is exactly how Groundhog Day begins. Except with cheerier music.
Whaaaat Tak Fujimoto? You DPed Silence of the Lambs! What are you doing with this chucklehead?
What kind of name is Screwvala for an executive producer?
Ooooh, written, produced, AND directed by Shamwow (like all of them are). Aren't we super lucky.
Starts in NYC. So he's spread his slime north from Philadelphia. Worse luck.
First line: "I forgot where I am." Oh, not a hot idea, dude.
Whoa, what? This is kind of cool, actually.
That's a knitting needle, not a hair stick. Ohhhh, and now it's an aorta needle! (Very unrealistic, the blood would spurt everywhere.)
What, crying? What the hell kind of construction worker are you? Be a man!
Oooh, Marky Mark. First line makes you sound like kind of a ditz. I know you're better than that. Also, now we're back in Philly WHERE WE BELONG.
These students are matched eerily at their lab tables: the only two black students seated together, the only two students with glasses seated together.
Dude, don't admit to your students that science can't answer every question. YOU'RE A SCIENCE TEACHER.
Okay, now the dumbest classroom scene I've seen in many a year is, thank God, over.
Ha, John Leguizamo in dorky glasses and a teacher tie.
These kids are all wearing collared shirts. Fucking preppies.
Let's pull the camera back just a shade, okay? Marky Mark's attractive from most angles, but I don't need to see his nose hair.
WHOA. Zooey. Try not to look quite so much like a mannequin.
O RLY? A brain toxin causes you to kill yourself? That's the premise? 14 minutes in and you've lost me, Shamwow. Well done.
This is weak, stupid, overwrought interpersonal conflict that is inadequately explained and full of whine.
Death, death, DEATH! Actually the pistol passing from hand to hand like that would be kind of cool if the premise wasn't so stupid.
John Leguizamo shouting "I can't hear you" repeatedly into a cellphone is absolutely top-notch filmmaking.
Okay, I'm backing up and transcribing, because the dialogue is that terrible.
Marky Mark: Where are we?
Train Conductor: Filbert, Pennsylvania.
Marky Mark: Filbert? Does anybody know where that is? Why are you giving me one useless piece of information at a time? What's going on? Hey, why would you just stop? You can't just leave us here!
Okay, the limited information I have (both "attacks" have occurred in a park, and there was a meaningful shot of wind whispering through some trees before people started offing themselves) indicates that plant life has something to do with this neurotoxin. Which means that out in the country would be a less safe place to be than in a city. Yet off they go into the country.
Science teacher believes in Kirlian photography and mood rings. I sense that Shamwow has bitten off slightly more than he can chew here.
More unrealistic gore.
Int. restaurant. John Leguizamo is concerned.
"Where are we"?? Do you seriously have no knowledge of where the state of Pennsylvania is located in any given map of the American eastern seaboard?
You dumb shits. Stuff like this spreads. You can't outrun a fucking airborne toxin!
Aaaaand at the 28-minute mark, our "heroes" divide. This is a pretty dumb plot point one.
"I'm sure the probability of Princeton not being hit is good." Oof, that one should be taught in Bad Dialogue School.
Ha ha! I am a science teacher and you are a math teacher and we are friends. Ha!
"Don't take my daughter's hand unless you mean it"? Oh, right, I forgot, Leguizamo has that invented conflict with Zooey for no reason at all.
Hey, do we want to get to know these new characters during the drive to their house? Nah. Let's go right to a parking shot.
Ah, little meaningless mini-monologue about hot dogs. Completely the wrong tone. Also, my favorite Mozart piano concerto in the background, which shows, y'see, that Shamwow knows about classy things.
Actually, that was a neat cat scare. Gardeners hanging from the trees they were working on. He did copy it from his own, earlier, better movie, however.
OMG that's Dante!
You're going to make this traumatized girl do math? Are you completely insane? I'd just scream harder if he made me try to do a factorial.
Two people thrown from the car in a head-on collision, but not both of the people in the front seat. Hrm.
Hey, Leguizamo, it's down the road, not across the street.
This is a stupid plan. The state line is meaningless. It's airborne.
I hate it when stupid movies are emotionally manipulative.
"Elliot's resilient, isn't he?" As Jenny Trout has pointed out many a time, it is the laziest possible form of character development when you use dialogue to assign traits. Show, don't tell. (This should be even easier for you, Shamwow, since IT'S A MOVIE.)
Whoa. Whoa. This is getting stupider with such breathtaking rapidity that I can't even keep up. Zooey is delivering lines as if she's purposefully playing the dumbest girl in the world, and the plant guy is talking about grass communicating with bushes "and everything in between."
Spoken, the county is "ERR-un-dell". Subtitles reveal it to be "Arundell." When I worked in Arundel County in Maryland, it was "Ah-RUN-dull". If it's pronounced differently in Pennsylvania, fine, but I doubt it. Also, how is a Pennsylvania county "only on local maps"? If it's a county, it's a county.
You guys! AIRBORNE! This is idiotic. Staying together won't help anything. Going to an unpopulated county won't help anything. Being outdoors is the problem. At least all the evidence in the movie indicates that it's the problem. Daaaaaaaah.
Oh jeepers. The plants are the enemy? The plants are releasing the toxin aggressively, in reaction to humans? That's even sillier.
The lighting and colors are really nice in this movie. Human skin is pretty. Nice job, Tak F. and whoever else.
OH DON'T YOU FUCKING TURN THIS INTO A SCREED AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER. DON'T YOU DARE YOU ASSHOLE.
I do not believe anything scientific that comes out of your mouth, Marky Mark. You said you believe in Kirlian photography and mood rings.
Int. house. Marky Mark approaches a rubber tree with friendly, reassuring conversation.
At least there are an awful lot of creative ways for people to kill themselves depicted in this movie.
Oh, hey, if it turns out to be a screed against housing developments, that's okay with me.
Well, that's one way to thin out the characters. Murder two defenseless teenagers. This fucking movie.
Look, Jacksonville is full of ethnic people!
Least professional news broadcast ever. Possibly even least professional news broadcast in a movie ever. What journalist doesn't know a crackpot from a hole in the ground?
[impatient noise] More bullshit interpersonal conflict that's psychically intuited by other characters. Can we not?
Survivalist lady is crazy and unstable? Say it ain't so!
Maybe there's no underlying reason for the aggressive plants. Maybe it just is. I couldn't really say whether that's worse or better.
I couldn't have made that line believable either, Marky Mark. Kisses to ya.
The narrative has sort of ground to a halt here. This house interior is nice, but for a movie called The Happening, there isn't much happening.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? (Creepy full-size doll!)
Hm. So the plants are aggressive against aggressive thoughts. I thought that was happening earlier but I wasn't sure. See, because it's like the mood ring that keeps coming up in every goddamn possible scene. Plants can sense moods like mood rings can. Except that mood rings can't. FUCK THIS MOVIE.
One hour and 12 minutes into the movie, someone finally battens the hatches inside a house, instead of hanging around outdoors. Sheesh.
Attention movie score: this scene is not that tragic and not that heroic. Back off a bit.
Because I figured out that the plants "attack" when humans are aggressive, and these humans aren't feeling aggressive, this just looks like a breezy day instead of some kind of miracle.
OH, SO VERY LAME, SHAMWOW. AVATAR BACKPACK ADVERTISES FOR YOUR OWN GODDAMN NEXT MOVIE.
In the screenplay they keep calling this "The Event" instead of "The Happening." I don't think that Shamwow has enough subtlety to keep from allowing his characters to name the title of the movie in the movie, so I can only assume that the original title was The Event. (In an earlier draft, The Occurrence.)
Okay, stop. That's the second time a character has said that we might not ever understand certain acts of nature. I'm pretty sure you're confusing acts of nature with acts of...oh, there's another noun that goes at the end of that phrase...gee, I can't think of it.
It's the Exposition TV Special!
What? None of that follows at all. Second worst TV broadcast ever.
Int. bathroom. Zooey fidgets.
OMG. Being pregnant is not the answer to your relationship problems. Nor is it automatically a hopeful way to sew up a movie. Nor does it have anything to do with the manufactured interpersonal conflict between these two, which was still never quite clear. Fuck you, movie. You sucked to the very last moment.
OH NO, LA SURVENANCE!