The Happening is the latest movie by the writer / director M. Night Shyamlan who has made films like The Sixth Sense, Signs and more recently The Lady in the Water. This movie opens in New York when for seemingly no reason there seems to be a collective desire by people to commit suicide.
The story then shifts to Elliot Moore (Wahlberg) and his wife who flee the city with their friends' child. They ultimately join with other displaced people and start unravelling the mystery of the happening – Moores idea is that it appears that nature is fighting back he cant be right or is he?
I'm finding it hard to begin commenting on this film, I suppose I wanted reviews I had read on the films release to be wrong and that there was something redeeming about this film – unfortunately the reviews were right. The story is clumsy the plot so glaringly obvious its hard not to equate it with watching a 50's B movie, rather than one of the more promising directors to emerge in the past few years.
There is no subtly about this film, which may work when watching a horror or action movie but a film that is trying to explore nature's ability to bite back it seems totally out of place. The script painfully points out the obvious and Elliot Moores analysis of the situation and leaps of knowledge are quite frankly laughable: (whats doing this? Is it the grass? The grass is speaking to each other? etc) I was left wondering with his uncanny ability to analyse any situation why he wasn't running NASA or up for the Nobel Prize rather than teaching in a high school.
Another problem is the acting: Wahlberg is so awkward and unable to handle the material (and its not rocket science) he fails to make anything look realistic, and likewise Deschanel also gives a clunky performance that generally only requires two facial expressions from her – frowning and mild surprise. There is also no chemistry between the couple, who are supposed to be married but have no interaction spark or any vague understanding – its almost painful to watch.
The overall idea is not a bad one, I just feel it was handled badly; it almost made me wish that the happening were happening to me!
Director & writer: M. Night Shyamlan
Mark Wahlberg – Elliot Moore
Zooey Deschanel – Alma Moore
Read more at: Nerve Curve