Matchup of the Day: Troll 2 vs. The Happening
Here’s a couple of movies that feature death by plants – Troll 2 vs. The Happening.
I watched The Wizard of Oz again recently after nearly twenty years. I was enjoying myself up until the scene where Dorothy passes out in the field of magical poppies, which suddenly reminded me of a grievous gap in my movie viewing – I still hadn’t seen The Happening. Not to say I’m a M. Night Shyamalan fan by any stretch. I think Unbreakable is OK, and maybe half of The Village is pretty good. The Happening, though, is supposed to be something special. In an Entertainment Weekly article, Kate Ward calls it “the funniest movie about mass death I had ever seen.” The only thing I knew about The Happening was that it involved plants causing people to kill themselves. I had no idea that I would see Mark Wahlberg try to reason with a plastic tree.
In Troll 2, another film that I had inexcusably neglected to watch, people are actually turned into plants. After which, they are consumed by evil goblins. There is a similar scene in the film to the one from The Happening where Wahlberg talks to the tree, except the tree in Troll 2 is part human. And a goblin sorceress chainsaws him to death. Well, maybe it’s not that similar. The two films do share an environmental message, however. The Happening is about how the plants are warning humans to stop destroying the environment and Troll 2 promotes vegetarianism and healthy eating. (NOTE: It’s worth pointing out that The Happening appears to be pro-hot dogs, while Troll 2 is anti-hot dogs. Watch them both and decide for yourself. I think the contrast is clear-cut.)
Laura Gemser, the person behind Troll 2’s costume design. Just thought I’d share.
I haven’t watched the documentary on Troll 2, Best Worst Movie, primarily because I didn’t want to be biased when I saw the actual film. Whenever I first see a movie I want to go in with as few preconceptions as possible. Sure, I knew that both Troll 2 and The Happening were considered hilariously bad by many, but I have enough experience with paracinema to not be easily impressed by badness. A film must be mesmerizingly awful to truly blow my mind. So, which of the two movies do I find the most entertaining based on that criteria? Having grown up on 80’s cheese and horror, Troll 2 didn’t surprise me a whole lot. A lot of movies from the 80’s and 90’s are equally ridiculous. The Happening, on the other hand, did surprise me, since I thought it would be another one of Shyamalan’s self-serious twist movies. It definitely wasn’t. He seemed to be a bit looser and have a sense of humor with The Happening.
I think I’ll have to go with Shyamalan on this one. Granted, the ending of Troll 2 is better. Instead of a groan-inducing twist, The Happening has a disappointingly conventional and unsatisfying conclusion. At least a bad twist would’ve been something. Otherwise, I found The Happening quite enjoyable. I wish Shyamalan would make more movies like it.