After Lady in the Water failed to impress all but two or three people, there was a lot of talk that M. Night Shyamalan had lost his touch. Too insulated a filmmaker, he wasn’t listening to any outside input, and the days of good movies like The Sixth Sense were over, and all we’d be getting from now on was crap like Lady in the Water, which was really crappy. Luckily, he’s gone a ways toward redeeming himself with The Happening. Why? For a few reasons. Not the least of which is that The Happening is M. Night Shyamalan’s FIRST. RATED. R. MOVIE. EVAR. What now bi*ches? Can you handle it? Didn’t think so.
In The Happening, a strange phenomenon is sweeping the country (more specifically, New England). What is it? Beatlemania? Reaganomics? None of the above. For reasons unexplained, people are committing suicide. And not just emo-style slitting your wrists suicide. People are jumping off of buildings, they’re throwing themselves under lawnmowers and hanging themselves from trees. As more and more people succumb to this strange “happening”, Mark Wahlberg and his wife, Zooey Deschanel are forced to run. Run for their incredibly attractive lives.
Now, I love Mark Wahlberg. I love Zooey Deschanel. Seriously, I love Zooey Deschanel. They’re both great actors, but for some reason, the acting in the movie felt a little stilted. The same with a lot of the dialog. That’s more a problem with the script than anything else. Shyamalan is obviously an experienced screenwriter, but sometimes I wonder if he reads the things he’s written back to himself. If the dialog isn’t conversational, it’s not a huge deal, but it does take you out of things a bit. You can’t get lost in it.
The Happening differs from previous Shyamalan films in that the big twist isn’t revealed in the last five minutes of the movie. And it’s a pretty interesting concept, although one can’t tread this sort of ground without sounding a little preachy. I don’t want to spoil anything, so you’ll have to watch the movie and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And while the movie isn’t outright scary, it does have some good jump moments.
While I think a lot of people will have a good time with this one, I don’t think there’s any reason to run out to the theater to see it. For some reason, it feels like only half a movie, and it’ll work just fine as a Saturday night stay at home affair. And while I love Wahlberg and I love Deschanel, this isn’t either one of their best performances by a long shot. A fun movie, but save your cash.
6.5 out of 10 stars