WARNING – VENTING ALERT!!!
I have just returned from being subjected to another awful M. Night Shyamalan film. Actually, based on recent experience with his films it is redundant to use that particular adjective but this one is so egregiously bad that words almost fail me … but not quite. I hadn’t planned to go to the movies but Alvin, Binky and Alvin’s cousin Amshad said they were going and would pick me up for the 9:15 showing of The Happening. Warning bells should have gone off in my head but since my flu/cold/terminal disease has kept me a virtual recluse lately I went. Foolish move.
Those who know me even slightly well know that i love the medium of film but nothing irks me more than a badly made film. In this case M or Night or whatever his fans call him has achieved the previously unachievable task of making a film where there is simply nothing good about it. SPOILER ALERT!!!
I found it strange that the film opened here in Trinidad before the official release date of Friday 13th in the US ( gosh what a clever release date) but I am sure once the critics rightly savage the film on Friday it will be thrown straight on to DVD. Actually, in my view that would be a waste of a DVD blank. The premise of this travesty, in a nutshell – and not to put too fine a point on it – is that the plants get annoyed and decide to kill us. But they don’t actually kill us themselves, oh no, that would be far too simple and a bit too Day of the Triffids, what they do is release a “toxin” in the air that makes us kill ourselves in a variety of creative and colourful ways. We throw ourselves off buildings, shoot ourselves, slash our wrists, get run over by lawn equipment and even bash our heads into walls. Oh gee..I almost forgot…we also jump into lion cages and tease them until they bite our arms off as it is captured on iPhone video ( despite the fact iPhones don’t do video) . If we take this incredibly stupid premise that the plant version of Google Labs suddenly figured out this clever formula and pair it with some of the worst and most stilted dialogue I have ever heard and then throw in some incredibly bad acting we end up with a recipe for an instant headache.
When I say bad dialogue I don’t mean just bad dialogue I refer to the sort of dialogue that would make your eyes roll back into your head and never want to emerge again. We are talking lines such as “don’t let the wind catch you” and “if I have to die I want to die with you” and I, of course ,paraphrase because I was having a hard time staying conscious. This sort of thing might work if it is done tongue in cheek but M N S takes himself so damned seriously with what I gather was meant to be a morality lesson about the environment.
The acting made me think they just rounded up a bunch of people and dropped them on the set. Mark Wahlberg makes a fine underwear model but i swear his range makes Keanu Reeves look like Larry Olivier. Zooey Deschanel, the female lead, seems to have been given some sort of pupil dilating drops and then pumped full of medication before being let loose on the set. The only person who seemed to have escaped this film with her career was Betty Buckley who at least managed a camp crazy lady performance.
So, to summarise, people start dropping like flies within the first 5 minutes, then for the next 6 hours..ok fine…1.5 hours …we have to listen to bad dialogue as people try to figure out what is going on and “run from the wind”. I am all for freedom of expression but I shouldn’t be lured into having to sit through a grade Z movie. I can see no reason for this “film” other than wasting time and effort and making cinema enthusiasts feel ripped off. I read with alarm that M N S is about to embark on making another movie. Please M. Night do film a favour and put down the pen, fold away the director’s chair and step away from the camera.
I’ve slept on it and decided I was too kind last night. This film was not just bad it was monumentally bad. It is an affront to bad film. It is the Burj Dubai of bad film making. It is, in short, the gunk under the toenail of bad film making. Those writers who dare to liken M N S to Hitchcock are off their trolley. Hitchcock was a genius and a tremendous talent. M N S should not even be allowed to say the name Hitchcock. I want my 90 minutes back and Alvin wants his $180 back.