It begins with no clear warning. It seems to come out of nowhere. In a matter of minutes, episodes of strange, chilling deaths that defy reason and boggle the mind in their shocking destructiveness, erupt in major American cities. What is causing this sudden, total breakdown of human behavior? Is it some kind of new terrorist attack, an experiment gone wrong, a diabolical toxic weapon, an out-of-control virus? Is it being transmitted by air, by water.. how?
For Philadelphia high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) what matters most is finding a way to escape the mysterious and deadly phenomenon. Though he and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) are in the midst of a marital crisis, they hit the road, first by train, then by car, with Elliot’s math teacher friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his 8 year-old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), heading for the Pennsylvania farmlands where they hope they’ll be out of reach of the grisly, ever-growing attacks. Yet it soon becomes clear that no one — and nowhere — is safe. This terrifying, invisible killer cannot be outrun. It is only when Elliot begins to discover the true nature of what is lurking out there — and just what has unleashed this force that threatens the future of humanity — that he discovers a sliver of hope that his fragile family might be able to escape what is happening.
I am very disappointed in Mr. Shyamalan’s latest effort. What starts out with promise to be one of his best writing and directing efforts in film, ends up at the bottom of the list way below films like “Unbreakable”, “Lady in the Water”, “Signs”, “The Sixth Sense” and even “The Village”. It seems like he is more interested in selling his agenda in the film than developing a good story. If we don’t start taking care of the planet we are all going to die comes through clearly, but there is the absence of good story telling in “The Happening”. He touches on the fact that bees are disappearing at an alarming rate throughout the world but doesn’t explore or develop that aspect of why the strange happening is occurring.
What I do like about almost all Shyamalan’s films is the absence of nudity, sex, and drugs. He has a good talent for writing and directing interesting films without lowering himself to the standard obscene and unnecessary unsavory content. Although in “The Happening” he does include some profanity and bloodshed that eliminate it from being able to receive The Dove Seal. “The Happening” just happens to be at the bottom of my list of M. Night Shyamalan films. If you like his work, you would be better off viewing one of his other movies and just leave this sleeping dog of a film off your list of things to watch.