The Happening ***1/2

Mark Wahlberg looks with fear in "The Happening"

Mark Wahlberg looks with fear in “The Happening”

Why has everybody turned on M. Night Shyamalan?  He started out by directing the smash hit, “The Sixth Sense”, then went on to have two more hit movies, then suddenly because of one bad movie, everybody turned on him.  Yes, “The Village” was an awful movie and yes, “Lady In The Water” was not as great as it could have been, but he is a talented writer and director.  Proof of this comes with his new film called “The Happening”.

The story involves a mass epidemic that seems air born, and cause people to kill themselves.  Whole city’s are suddenly plagued with people killing themselves in bizarre ways.  These scenes were some of the films most effective moments.  Seeing something like this done so realistically was very chilling.  Especially when the main characters happen upon a town where most of the residents are hanging from the power lines. 

Mark Wahlberg stars as a School teacher who ends up on the run with his girlfriend, and the daughter of one of his peers.  His performance is quiet and effective, as well as everybody else’s.  I will say that the scenes where these characters seem to be chased by the wind are a little underwhelming, but the sub-dued performances and the mass suicides added to a real atmosphere of dread like only Shyamalan can create. I even liked the reason for the epidemic, which I think is not to far from something that could happen.

Now I’m already seeing a serious hatred for this film.  It has registered Shyamalan’s lowest ratings ever on Rotten Tomatoes.  How can this be?  Are people just hating him on general principle now?  Perhaps he should direct a movie without writing it next and keeping his name off the advertising, because I would hate to see such talent go to waste.


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