It’s not that often that D-BOX Motion Code is the best feature on a Blu-ray movie. A great complementary feature, yes, but hands-down the best aspect of the entire production? With The Happening, that’s exactly the case. I’m not going to sugar-coat it: The Happening is the worst thing to happen to Blu-ray Disc since the format debuted. Well, except maybe Zombie Strippers; hard to find much “right” with that one. The saving grace with The Happening on Blu-ray is D-BOX Motion Code, both because it’s a fantastic technology and because its novelty is the only thing that saves the film from falling victim to an early ejection.
From the very first frames of the film, you know two things about The Happening: the movie’s a stinker, and the D-BOX implementation is fantastic. Much like the subtle use of movement in National Treasure 2, the D-BOX Motion Code in The Happening seems to master subtle shifts in weight and balance. Within a few moments of the opening credits, a D-BOX-equipped chair rumbles slightly to coincide with the wind blowing and with the slight basslines of the opening song. You hardly notice the rumble effect until the music ramps up as the opening credits start to come to a close, but when the song ends, you immediately feel a sense of familiarity, almost as if your subconscious has come into the fore and made you realize that the movement had been there for the past 90 seconds.
Although the opening minutes primarily use the Motion Code to underscore musical basslines, you get your first taste of major D-BOX motion at the five-minute mark, as the chair rocks and rolls to coincide with the first-person viewpoint of a construction worker running to help his friend. The thumps then continue as more workers’ bodies fall from the top of an under-construction building, as cars run into trees and as guns go off in mass-suicide scenes. These set the stage perfectly for the D-BOX “theme” in this film: malevolent motion.
The premise of The Happening, for those who are wondering, is thus: plants are pissed at humans for destroying the environment, so they’ve altered their chemistry to make a neurotoxin that causes people to go insane and immediately kill themselves. This toxin is transported by the wind, of course, so the wind itself becomes the movie’s villain, as it were. As such, whenever the wind blows, the D-BOX Motion Code kicks into high gear, giving the sensation of your chair “swaying” in the breeze and really providing an experience that’s vital to what small success the film has on Blu-ray.
Ironically, though, it’s not even the implementation of Motion Code for the wind that’s the best part. Instead, it’s the train ride from Philadelphia to suburban Pennsylvania. During this four-minute scene, the D-BOX engineers have delivered what is quite possibly the perfect motion simulation ever experienced in the home-video market: the feeling that you’re riding on a train. Unless you’re actually riding a train, nowhere else will you ever experience such an authentic “clacking” feeling that’s both so perfectly subtle and immersive. Later in the scene, the rocking/clacking gets more intense as the music intensifies, which puts a slight damper on the implementation, but on the whole, this scene is by far the most authentic-feeling motion D-BOX has delivered to date.
Even without this scene’s near-perfect motion, D-BOX Motion Code single-handedly saves The Happening on Blu-ray Disc. The implementation of Motion Code for the wind is nothing short of brilliant, as it really delivers the feeling of the wind being a malevolent enemy, and the subtle beats in the musical score reinforces the intensity of a few scenes. The Happening itself is completely laughable, but if you’re looking for a film to illustrate D-BOX technology, not cinematic excellence, this is one film to begrudgingly add to your Blu-ray collection.
- D-BOX Score: 9
- The train scene is perfect and the wind motions are highly effective. If only the film itself were even half as good as the D-BOX track….
— Jonas Allen