After watching The Happening, film critics who complained that M Night Shyamalan is a one-note director, will get nostalgic for the days when he had a note.??
The Happening is high on nonsensical environmental babble and low on visceral thrills.? For a Shyamalan film, it?s unforgivably limp.
The film begins fabulously.? On a seemingly, ordinary summer day in New York, people walking through Central Park, become disoriented and then start killing themselves in horrific ways.?
There is a hair-raising shot of construction workers leaping off like lemmings from the top of a building.? But the shock and horror wear off quickly.
Like in many of Shyamalan?s other films, the action then moves to a family unit in Philadelphia.?
A high school science teacher, his wife and a little girl try to stay ahead of the air-borne toxin, which is making people do this.? They flee by train, car and eventually on foot.
Shyamalan sets up a horrific premise: what if people start to commit suicide en masse.? But the film doesn?t build on it.?
Instead the tension and creepiness, Shyamalan?s forte, is dissipated by repetitive scenes and clumsy dialogue.?
Talking heads on television give explanations on what is going on and characters say lines like: It is an act of nature and we?ll never fully understand it or we have become a threat to the planet and this is a warning.?
After lots of talk and too few kicks, the film ends in such a whimper that I longed for a Shyamalan twist.?
Even a twist as silly as the one in The Village would have been more satisfying.? The Happening is too insubstantial to be effective.? It?s simply not happening.