The Happening

I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s work usually but I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with this one. Before you read on, I wanted to warn you that this review does contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this film yet and don’t want to know the spoilers, than you may want to stop here.

The film does grab your attention right out of the gate based on shock value. This is M. Night’s first R-rated movie and he definitely pushes the envelope in terms of the violence and brutality behind the concept. Where he falls shy is in the substance of the concept and storyline.

In terms of story, the film revolves around a mysterious event where people suddenly become incapacitated zombies and kill themselves. When the first round of this happens, it is creepy and disturbing. However, after the 2nd and 3rd segments of the suicides, it becomes about how creative the people get when killing themselves, so it loses it’s impact and becomes a bit tedious, almost campy (although the lawnmower segment was kind of fun to watch in a gruesome sort of way).

Eventually, theories start to emerge as to why these events are taking place with no solid foundation, just speculation. It turns out that plants have natural defense mechanisms for defending themselves against predators. One of the things that makes this concept tough to believe is that all of a sudden, the plants turn their attention towards humans and out of nowhere can create a toxin that effects humans. And for whatever reason, their attack only lasts about 24 hours and is confined to a limited area near a nuclear power plant.

Mark Wahlberg is the main character along with Zooey Deschanel, both of which are normally very good, solid actors. This time, their characters and their dialog seem forced. There are some subplots but they get overshadowed by the main events, so you don’t really care that much about them as a result. Their performances are also a bit forced, I wasn’t really buying Wahlberg as the concerned teacher, he just seemed to be trying too hard, same thing with Zooey’s character as the disconnected ex-girlfriend. John Leguizamo also makes an appearance as the over-emotional father character, again, his performance is a bit forced and overly dramatic.

I hate to admit it, but I’d wait for this one to hit regular television to catch it if you don’t have anything better to do.

reviewed by Sean McKnight