Many people point to either The Village or Lady in the Water as the films where M. Night Shyamalan’s career took a nosedive off a cliff. I point to The Happening, which was a film that chronicled a “happening” where people all around the world start to mysteriously commit mass suicide. Unlike most people, I actually really enjoyed The Happening, but for all the wrong reasons. With the exception of the production value behind it, everything about it just reeked of an amateur B-movie director. The dialogue was oddly written, his actors (great actors) gave strange performances, and the plot made little to no sense. It basically checked all the boxes of my favorite horrible films.
Looking back on it now, I’m not convinced this was a complete accident. At the time, Shyamalan repeated that he really was going for a B-movie, and it something he still sticks to. Some may think this is him covering up his mess, but I’m not convinced. The choices made by some of the actors (including Mark Wahlberg and his infamous “What? No!” line were just too out of left field to be an accident, right? I’d like to think that Shyamalan has good enough taste to realize when it borders on incompetence. Perhaps the joke was just too tongue-in-cheek to be successful here. At least that’s what I hope.
Back when video rental places were a thing, you’d always stumble across those movies who were made as nothing but cheap cash grabs to prey on unknowledgeable moviegoers who picked them up thinking they were the real deal. I remember coming across plenty of films that made their covers look like Lord of the Rings or The Matrix, and I can only imagine what happened when the poor saps took those movies home with them. One of my favorite films was Transmorphers, which was made to capitalize on Michael Bay’s Transformers film (in case you couldn’t tell).
But if you thought the plot was made to even resemble Transformers, you’d be wrong. No. It’s far worse. It takes place either 300 or 400 years in the future (the film and the trailer can’t seem to agree on this point) after humanity has been driven underground by robot-wielding aliens, and follows their attempts to regain their planet. While ambitious in nature, it’s ultimately too hard to take seriously. Its visual effects look more at home on a PS1 than in a movie, and the story has virtually no heft to it, though it’s not for a lack of trying. If you check this one out, I highly recommend you do so with a good drinking game in mind.
Honorable Mention: Post Impact
Do you like disaster movies with overly-serious plots and sex scenes that are of no consequence to the narrative? Post Impact may be up your alley then. The reason it didn’t make this list is that despite being a bad movie, it’s kind of boring to watch, which is a shame. Sure, there was one character who popped up, and was incredibly interesting, but then was killed off two minutes later. Ultimately, it was forgettable, but for one reason or another, this one still stuck with me. Perhaps it was seeing Dean Cain in action after so many years. Oh yeah. Did I mention Dean Cain was in this?
What are some of your favorite bad sci-fi movies? Let us know down below!
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