Blu-ray Review: The Happening

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The front cover of Fox’s Blu-ray disc for The Happening reads, “Includes over 1 hour of INTENSE bonus footage NOT SHOWN IN THEATERS!

What? Really? Let me buy this and see what we have here…

As it turns out, this isn’t technically a lie because there is over an hour of bonus features, but when it comes down to actual footage from the film we are talking about maybe 10 minutes at most in the deleted scenes portion. If we are going to start including behind-the-scenes featurettes as “footage not shown in theaters” we really need to re-evaluate our marketing tactics. If you ask me this is a blatant case of deceptive marketing and needs to be recognized.

On this disc you get a rather large group of making-of featurettes and a couple of them are quite good. The featurette showing how they did the car crash scene and made it look like one complete shot when in actuality it was about five shots pieced together was great. However, the featurette showing the kind of wind machines they used was about as boring as it gets. Everything else was a bit in-between, but I am still not sure how the folks in the “Hard Cut” featurette think this is a “Hard R” film. The Happening is an R-rated film, yes, but “Hard R”? Sorry, nope.

The deleted scenes are where you get your bonus footage as it offers either extended looks or actual portions of scenes that were cut. These scenes actually do contain some gore, one scene in particular is quite gory and is an extension of a scene from the film that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan himself admits is something that really had folks on set and in preview audiences wincing at. His decision – cut it out! What? I thought this was your hard R film. Yeah, but we don’t want it to be too gory, it will take people out of the film. Whatever.

After watching the film in theaters I felt repeated viewings may give me a deeper appreciation for The Happening, but as it turns out it is just one of those films I don’t care to appreciate. If I am going to try and appreciate a film a little more I will pop in The Third Man or Ran instead of this mess.

The film itself looks and sounds fantastic. It appears Fox is starting to follow suit with Universal and equipping their Blu-rays with not only an impressive picture but sound to match as this one comes with a DTS-HD track that really sounds fantastic. Of course, the look and sound don’t matter too much when the film is just so-so, which is what The Happening is. I am not one of those critics that is going to bash this film just to bash it, but it has flaws. When your protagonists act this poorly (this may be Mark Wahlberg’s worst performance ever) it reflects highly on the director and when they are shown running in terror from the wind of all things that is a reflection on the decision to go ahead with this film in the first place, at least in its present form.

There are two exclusive Blu-ray features including a trivia track (boring) and a picture-in-picture feature that can be played along with the movie or separately. It actually isn’t all that bad and you will learn that at one point Shyamalan was actually considering calling this flick The Northeast Event. Had that happened I am quite sure it would have been laughed out from every corner. That is truly an awful title and I am thankful they decided against it.

Overall, this is a rental. If you already bought it, I am sorry. If you bought it because it said it had an additional hour of intense bonus footage and found out you were lied to, take it back and demand your money back. I understand companies need selling points, but deceiving their customers is not an acceptable practice.

NOTE: The Blu-ray packaging offered for preview online is not the packaging on store shelves. It doesn’t include the line referenced at the beginning of this review.

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