Ever since the wild success of his third feature “The Sixth Sense” director/screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan has produced flop after flop. “Unbreakable”, “The Village” and “The Lady in the Water” have all been box office failures. Has the celebrated director lost his touch is a question all film buffs have been asking themselves. We all held our collective breaths when “The Happening” came out in 2008. While the film turned out to be not as painful as “The Lady in the Water”; it still wasn’t up to his potential.
Without any real warning a bunch of strange deaths begin occurring in several major American cities. These are not your usual garden variety murders or death by disease; it seems an unexplainable and horrific pandemic has hit the U.S. It seems to turn its victims into a type of zombie. The incidents and deaths become more and more frequent as time goes on.
Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg – The Departed, Shooter) is a high school science teacher. He is married to Alma (Zooey Deschanel – (500) Days of Summer, Bridge to Terebithia), but they are having some problems in their marriage. All their problems take a back seat when the pandemic breaks out. Elliot, Alma and his co-worker Julian (John Leguizamo – Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Love in the Time of Cholera) band together with a group of people trying to escape from what is going on.
Elliot begins to clue in to what is going on and is terrified. He realizes that no one and no where is safe. The basic survival instinct kicks in and with death happening all around him Elliot will do anything to keep himself and his wife alive.
It’s perplexing to me why M. Night Shyamalan cannot seem to get his act together. The premises behind his movies are all good, creepy and the like, but the end result just isn’t up to snuff.
Even if we go into the film expecting a fun B movie (apparently that is what Shyamalan was aiming for) it still isn’t as fun as it could be. It can all be chalked up to the script, which was written by Shyamalan himself, and its flaws. Yes, I can accept that in a B movie the violence, gore and blood is going to be over-the-top, but the film is bad even beyond those things.
The first half hour of the film has potential then the descent begins. It then becomes ridiculous for ridiculous sake and lost me. Everything feels forced. Even actor Wahlberg (not Daniel Day-Lewis by any stretch of the imagination, but usually solid) begins to look uncomfortable with what is going on.
The only reason to watch the film is another good performance by Zooey Deschanel. She rises above the mess and turns in a believable performance. The woman can seem to do no wrong. Even in a film that is, for the most part, all wrong.
-The Hard Cut
-“I Hear You Whispering”
-The Happening – Visions of The Happening: A Making Of
-A Day for Night
-Elements of a Scene