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The Happening (2008)   rating

Review: written 2008

Surely as mis-titled a movie as there has been in a while

 The Happening (2008)

It's a B-movie. No other way to describe it. And as a non-intellectual throw-away B-movie, it's not that bad. However, it comes laden with expectation - it's a Shymalayan movie - so you’re already primed to think - what's the hook, and what's the twist!

Well, the hook is that mysterious deaths start occurring in the NE of the United States. Confusion reigns, as the news alternates between fear this is a terrorist attack, to the gradual realization this is.. well, just in case you haven't seen it yet I won't spoil the only `surprise' in the movie. But wait, there IS another surprise - when did Mark Wahlberg become such a dismal actor! The lines, the delivery, the timing, everything is just what you'd expect from a poorly edited 70's grindhouse movie. Can he be doing it deliberately as an in-joke? If so, the jokes on him because it’s truly cringe-worthy. If you can just take it at a B-movie level, you might get some satisfaction - because there isn't anything else to enjoy in the movie. The director has lost his flair for the gradual reveal, the careful structure, and the cinematic tools as storytelling devices.. it's a movie that is no more than the lowest denominator you might expect a movie with a plot like this to have.

Contemporaneous interviews discussed this being the director's exciting foray into the world of an adult rating. And true, some of the deaths are disconcerting, and yes, there is maybe one cheap shock to be had, but sadly it's all so straightforward, and lacks any impact, except the occasional moment of impact as you hit the wall with your head at the ineptitude.

As for the twist - there is none. It's just one of those movies that you keep thinking it will go somewhere and it goes on, and on... then... sort of ends. And that's it.

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