The Happening Isn’t All That Happening

The Happening
20th Century Fox/Spyglass Entertainment
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, and Alan Ruck
Written, Produced, and Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated R for violent and disturbing images
Running Time = 91 minutes
Available Now

Oh, M. Night Shyamalan. What hast thou wrought? The mastermind behind The Sixth Sense and Signs brings forth his first R-rated film. But much like Lady in the Water, the film falls flat. In fact, The Happening seems to rely more on shock tactics than any actual story.

Groups of people go into a seemingly comatose state, then proceed to kill themselves. Through a variety of means these folks take their own lives to the horror of those not affected. As the plague spreads, authorities determine it to be one thing: a terrorist attack.

Marky Mark plays Elliot Moore, a school teacher who attempts to escape the attack with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), and his friend and his daughter (John Leguizamo and Ashlyn Sanchez). As the bizarre attack spreads, lives are placed in jeopardy. And the big question of “what’s happening?” is revealed. But not here.

M. Night Shyamalan is a gifted filmmaker, a talented man, and a clever storyteller. So why he decided to do shock-level gore had me wondering about his choices. Is he trying to compete with the Saw and Hostel films of recent? Is he trying to make his films more mainstream and less “clever” in their ways of storytelling? Or is he just out of good ideas and has sold out?

I hope that Shyamalan’s next film is better than The Happening, because I enjoy his work. I’ll admit that I enjoyed The Village, and was totally invested up until the end. The Happening had a similar effect on me. Although the gruesomeness of the deaths pulled me out of the story, I still wanted to know what was causing all this madness.

The DVD is loaded with special features, including featurettes, interviews, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.

The Happening receives a B-. Not his best, but not his worst. Plus, the score by James Newton Howard is pretty good.

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