It is a well known fact that Manoj Night Shyamalan is a prodigy when it comes to making our hair stand on ends, and make you cringe in your seat with fear. It is also a well known fact that he might be losing his touch a little bit. Although his scripts are among the most original to come out of Hollywood, since Signs, his films have failed to capture the attention of audiences. With all due respect to Shyamalan, I have loved all his movies immensely except Lady in The Water, The Happening shows signs of lack of care in making the movie. Something that one would never associate with him.
Shyamalan is famous for the tension he creates on the screen. The scary and awe-inspiring moments which he is able to create on celluloid is nothing short of pure genius. Read : The scene with the boy with half a head from The Sixth Sense, the green man running across the screen in a flash from Signs, and the sight of a police jeep driving up in the middle of what seemingly is nowhere from The Village. M. Night Shyamalan is truly brilliant when it comes to things like that.
Like all the above mentioned, The Happening too has a fair share of such sequences. Namely, people falling off a rooftop (the poster above), a man walking straight into a lion pen - swarming with lions, and another man laying himself down in front of a giant grass-cutter. The loudness of the sounds which accompany these are shocking, not to mention spot-on! From shots of the wind ruffling through giant oaks and tall grasses, to shots of utter silence, visually The Happening is stunning. But that is about it.
The storyline is merely a different take on what one calls, in layman's terms, global warming. The biological accuracy of the plot is unknown to me. The consequences however, are, simply put, freaky! It is some sort of toxin or whatever you would like to call it, that makes human being suicidal. It looks mostly like a zombie movie. Though, films like 28 Days Later and I am Legend tackled the situation differently. The acting is way below par. Mark Wahlberg is not suited to play a science teacher. Zooey Deschanel, blue-eyed wonder, (Shayamalan has one of these individual's in most of his films) is flat. No expression, no nothing. The little girl, Ashlyn Sanchez is also flat (Why not Dakota Fanning? - though she wouldn't have much to do). There is no character development at all. The timing for most things is wrong. You never really feel for the characters. Just the sheer apocalyptic nature of the plot is enough to dismiss everything else about the film. It just seems a bit too over the top.
There are also too many misleading plot twists. The hippy family, and old Mrs. Jones (plain insane I tell you. I felt like smashing her head with a shovel). The two kids which accompany the main cast midway trhough the film - What were they even there for? All over, just the background score and the visual look and feel of the movie are commendable. Shayamalan still stands out in that field. But, be serious. The Happening is nowhere close to a good movie. It's just all wrong. Why would anyone crack a romantic joke when they have better things to worry about? Concentrate on staying alive - that helps!
Dont waste your time on this. Catch a few of the scenes I mentioned above, on YouTube, stay home and watch a rerun of The Sixth Sense, Signs, or whatever.
3/10 overall. Give us something better, M. Night. We know you can!