We're here to round out Plague Week (not to be confused with last year's enormously successful Plaque Week, which inspired millions to check out Novocaine, Marathon Man, Little Shop of Horrors and some movie with Corbin Bernsen) with a film that, admittedly, has to stretch a bit in order to qualify for a spot on this roster. As you'll all surely remember, The Happening isn't technically about some man-made plague wiping out humanity.
The Happening is about the Earth itself gassing people into increasingly grisly suicides. And Mark Wahlberg plays a science teacher who uses balls-out science to stay one step ahead of that motherfucker.
Unlike The Last Airbender or The Lady In The Water or After Earth, The Happening is a terrible film from the second act of Shyamalan's career that I will happily rewatch whenever I am inebriated enough to be talked into it. Virtually every damn thing about The Happening is mindbogglingly ill-conceived - from the casting to the grim suicide set pieces to the absurd little characterization moments (remember the guy obsessed with hotdogs?) to the ham-handed symbolism to the way that Shyamalan kinda tried to play the whole thing off after the fact by claiming he was trying to make a shitty B-movie, you guys - The Happening is an absolute riot to watch with a group of friends. Especially if those friends are, say, high.
Here are two of my absolute favorite scenes from the movie, presented without commentary:
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That second one? My favorite moment in the entire movie.
For a long time, I was an ardent defender of M. Night Shyamalan. I feel like I could one day be brought back around to that way of thinking, but for the time being M. Night should consider me off the clock. I mean, I'll still defend Unbreakable, Signs and even huge chunks of The Village without hesitation, but...after that, it becomes very difficult to get the guy's back. I will, however, defend The Happening. Just not in the same way I'll defend Shyamalan's genuinely great efforts.
For what it's worth, I'm hoping that Shyamalan's upcoming Wayward Pines offers the guy a chance to shake things up, get a little perspective and turn it into something we can enjoy unironically. Just about everything I've heard about the show has me on edge, and the recently-released trailer didn't exactly fill me with confidence. But Shyamalan's made enough movies I genuinely enjoy for me to continue holding out hope that he'll get his shit back together, and I hope Wayward Pines will be that project. I mean, if that turns out to be another trainwreck, where will he go from there?
PS: The film can be picked up for as little as one penny through the Amazon link below. Do with that information what you will.