Although he sports an interesting premise, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” is the weakest and most scattered film he’s produced to date (albeit I never saw 2006’s “Lady In The Water” so that could be even worse).
In what amounts to a naturalistic version of “War Of The Worlds,” “The Happening” stars Mark Wahlberg as a Philadelphia science teacher who joins his flaky wife (played by Zooey Deschanel), and untold others in a flight from an outbreak of mass suicides plaguing the American northeast.
At first, as would be expected in a real scenario, terrorism is suspected as the cause for the self-inflicted deaths. However, after that is ruled out by local officials, it becomes apparent that a far simpler cause may be responsible for people tossing themselves off buildings, and is impossible to escape.
On its face, I will give Night Shyamalan credit for his concept behind “The Happening.” It is clever. Yet its delivery lacks any feeling of suspense or dread. Truly, with the exception of one brief scene early in “Happening”—and its nod to 9/11—I never felt any emotional interest in Shyamalan’s characters, or their struggles to flee their unseen pursuers.
Hopefully, his next project will be far better executed.