It's been two surprisingly brisk years since M. Night Shyamalan unleashed his last utterly unwatchable labor of love upon us. That would be Lady in the Water—a project Disney would successfully argue was legitimate grounds for divorce, and that would ultimately go on to teach Warner Bros. a valuable lesson about never making movies about swimming pool mermaids hunted by weredogs with grass fur, regardless of how compelling the pitch sounded in the room. During that time, the highly self-regarded auteur and sometimes-actor has been toiling on yet another secretive project: The Happening.
In his intro to an exclusive scene on Yahoo! Movies, the director manages to liken his latest to The Godfather, The Exorcist, The Birds, and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and describes The Happening as being "the scariest movie that I've ever made." On that last point, we think the director has truly delivered—at least where incredibly bad filmmaking is capable of inducing bloodcurdling terror. Collider.com ran their early review yesterday. Be warned, Manoj Twists are revealed! M. NIGHT SPOILERALERT!
"The Happening" is a terrible, terrible movie. I mean, it's bad on an epic scale. It's so bad that I can't possibly tell you how bad it is without understating the point or making it sound like I'm picking on the film. But let me stress: this is not pent-up Shyamalan aggression or a desire to see him fail. This is bad in a jaw-dropping "they can't really be serious, can they?" kind of way. The closest comparison I can draw is to Neil LaBute's "Wicker Man." [...]
The most obvious fault in "The Happening" is the acting — in particular Wahlberg's performance. I'm saying this with no hyperbole, but Wahlberg might very well give the worst performance I've ever seen in anything...I can't help but feel that Shyamalan — intentionally or otherwise — is ultimately to blame for forcing some truly awful line readings.
[THIS IS THE SPOILER PART:] It's plants that are responsible. They've decided to wipe out humanity and release the neuro-toxin as their natural weapon.... What Shyamalan quickly finds, though, is that it's very, very hard to menacingly cut to an evil-looking tree. That doesn't stop him from trying, though, and he inexplicably adds wind as a way of livening up the scenes. When the leaves of a tree start to blow, evil's afoot.
While none of this bodes too well for Fox, or lovers of not-awful cinema, the Pollyanna in us can't help but seek out the silver lining: And we thought of one! At the very least, some pants-pissingly hilarious YouTube mashups are surely just a few months away, giving Nicolas Cage in a bear suit clocking some Texas Polygamist Wife-looking chick a run for its money with a montage prominently featuring Marky Mark going postal on a yellow poplar.