24) What Is The Worst Movie Of The Past 20 Years?

Q)What is the worst movie of the past 20 years?

A)The Happening.

Lot of tough competition here.  Battlefield Earth not only destroyed John Travolta’s reputation as an actor, but it somehow succeeded in giving Scientology a worse reputation, a task that was previously thought to be impossible.  Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is legendarily bad.  The Room is so horrible, it’s hard to believe any studio would agree to finance it, any actor would agree to act in it, and any hard-working American would slap down nine bucks and say “That one.  Give me a ticket for The Room.”

The Happening, though, is a special kind of horrible.  The aforementioned films very nearly fall into the “so bad it’s good” category epitomized by films like Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Troll II (Who among us hasn’t delightedly recited the “They’re eating her! And then they’re going to eat me! Oh my God!!!!” line?).  There’s a perverse sort of fun watching Travolta in Battlefield Earth or laughing at the action scenes in Ecks vs. Sever.  And in a way, we (or at least, me) are sort of rooting for these films to fail, and the knowledge that they were so bad secretly makes us (or, again, me) happy.  Unless you’re a die-hard Scientologist, the notion of a movie based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is ridiculous, for instance. 

The Happening is a little different though.  For one thing, it’s directed by a guy, M. Night Shaymalan, who was once considered amongst the most promising directors in American cinema.  I was never that big a fan of him, but I do respect him.  So many Hollywood movies are generic, paint-by-numbers productions helmed by people looking to cash a pay-check.  What I mean is, you couldn’t tell what a Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) film looks like. There’s no directorial trademarks running through your average Renny Harlin (The Covenant, Deep Blue Sea) picture.  A guy like Shaymalan, even if you hate him, he at least is trying to some interesting things.  His films are distinct.  He’s an “auteur” as they say.

Anyway, there was a lot riding on The Happening.  The consensus was that this was Shaymalan’s last chance as a filmmaker; that if this one was a flop he’d never work in Hollywood again, which obviously didn’t end up happening.  But still, it was his last chance to show he was still capable of making a good film.  The premise and the marketing leading up to the film were really intriguing.  Here’s a teaser trailer:

The film is about a mysterious event which leads to a number of people in the eastern United States killing themselves.  Is this a terrorist attack?  Is there some kind of diabolical mad scientist behind this?  It’s not a bad premise, but it’s horribly executed.  Eventually, we find out that (SPOILER WARNING) the trees are fighting back against humanity and are secreting a substance that is making people off themselves.  So the second half of the movie consists of Mark Wahlberg and company essentially running from the wind.

To make matters worse, the special effects are atrocious.  Watch this scene:

Are you kidding me?  That looks like something my 13 year old cousin could put together on his MacBook.  The movie had a 60 million dollar budget; they couldn’t have splurged a little on the special effects? 

Finally, I’ve never seen worse acting.

I think Mark Wahlberg is a pretty good actor.  The Fighter, The Departed, and Boogie Nights are all very good films and fine performances by Marky Mark.  But he is horrendous in this movie.  It’s like the guy has never acted before, or like he’s playing a guy who doesn’t know how to act.  Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo also give wooden performances.

Overall, it’s hard to imagine a worse, more disappointing film. 0/10.

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~ by fc13 on January 18, 2011.

3 Responses to “24) What Is The Worst Movie Of The Past 20 Years?”

  1. Hmm, I’ve never actually seen “House of the Dead” but from everything I’ve heard/read/seen, it seems pretty awful. First off, you’ve got Uwe Boll at the helm, a man widely considerded to be one of the worst film makers around. The fact that it’s a video game adaptation doesn’t help things much. And yeah, the movie has a horendous 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. So I’m sure you could make a strong case for it being as bad or even worse than “The Happening.” My own personal experience with the latter film, though, has pretty much cemented it in my mind as the absolute pinnacle of bad filmmaking.

    By the way, thanks for the comment!

    • Yea I saw “The Happening” in theaters the weekend it came out and I was very unimpressed. I have been moving that direction with M.Night somewhere around “Unbreakable” when I realized that all he has is a twist. I will admit “The Happening” was the kill point in why I want watch anymore M.Night movies. But yea, check out HotD. Its really that bad, 4% is higher than I thought it would have gotten. Sadly enough I’m one of those people that will watch all kinds of horror movies just for the sheer fact that it will be pure comedy humor wise, or possibly a bit scary.

  2. I’m a tad bit late commenting on this as this was back in January… But I have to ask. “House of the Dead”, your opinion? I would have to say HotD is the worst movie of all time.

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