The Happening aka The Crappening

the-crappeningRegardless of the warnings I received, I was bound and determined to see The Happening. There’s no way, I said, that it can be as bad as everyone says. They’re all jaded because of M. Night Shyamalan’s undying love of the twist ending, that’s all. I’ll see it and enjoy it, just like his under-appreciated The Village. The Lady in the Water, that was just an anomaly. Shyamalan’s cup of hubris had runneth over. Things could only get better.

After seeing The Crappening, I really wish I would have heeded those warnings. This has to be one of the worst movies I’ve seen by a director with as much talent as Shyamalan. It was bad bad bad. I’m not even sure where to begin.

The title The Happening sounds like a joke. Something so blunt and generic that you’d expect this to be the title of a parody, not an actual horror movie. Sure, it’s along the same lines as The Thing, but I don’t go around talking about the big happening at work today. On the other hand, I would tell someone about the thing I saw. Actually for me, The Happening invokes images about some party in the 60′s. Doesn’t it sound more like a movie about swingers partying than people committing suicide?

It’s no secret early on in The Crappening that the trees are the source of the suicide-inducing toxins. You can’t go five minutes without shots of the trees swishing around or the sound of wind swooshing through the leaves. And the science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) keeps saying that everything started in parks. Even though the “isn’t that weird?” is unspoken, it hangs in the air like a cloud of suicide-inducing poison more potent than deadly tree toxin.

Pseudo-, quasi-, absurd science has long been a staple of horror movies, but the whole idea of trees deciding they are fed up with humans ruining the environment and purposefully coordinating a systemic, strategic emission of a toxin that causes people to kill themselves is not what you’d expect from someone once hailed as the next Spielberg. It’s not even something you’d expect from someone once hailed as the next Renny Harlin. If it was the 50′s and these trees were mutated by radiation and turned into evil monsters, okay, it works. Trying to capture the same thing and keep it grounded in reality makes me want to go around and tell people tales of how I survived The Crappening. My sanity, it’s barely intact.

What this movie illustrates above all else is that Shyamalan needs strong actors to pull off his material. Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo all looked like they had no idea what they were doing. The best way to describe each of their characters would be that they looked like what I expect Adam and Eve must have after they got evicted from Eden. Everything they do or say is some shade of innocence and naivety. They didn’t feel like people who live in the real world. If it wasn’t expressly said that Wahlberg and Deschanel’s characters were having relationship issues, you’d have a damn hard time figuring that out. But I don’t dislike any of the actors, it’s just that they don’t have the chops to overcome Shyamalan’s weak direction. The actors in previous Shyamalan movies (Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix) can usually rise above a weak production. Wahlberg, Deschanel, and Leguizamo can’t.

Next time a movie is marked as being the first R-rated movie from [insert director], I’ll stay away. Next time a horror movie has a title that sounds like a hippie shindig, I’ll move along. Next time a movie is made by M. Night Shyamalan, I won’t see it. The Crappening should be a finable offense.

1 comment to The Happening aka The Crappening

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>