We've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happening.
Robert Bailey Jr.
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
M. Night Shyamalans The Happening was touted as the directors first R-rated film! Thats what the commercials said, the trailerssomehow, this was going to be something completely new. Problem is, it wasnt. Sure, the premise is sort of new, and the actual happening thats happening is an idea we havent really seen before, but a lot of this feels like familiar territory, and unfortunately, the retread feels rushed and over-edited.
Right out of the gate, strange things start happening in The Happening. People inexplicably begin stabbing themselves with hairpins, jumping off of buildingsbasically, offing themselves with what appears to be no provocation. High school science teacher Elliott Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), on the run from whatever mysterious force is turning the population against itself, see a lot of crazy, scary stuff while trying to figure out what the heck is going on. We are along for the trip.
Now, the story itself is intriguing, and when the actual reason behind the weirdness is revealed, its an interesting slant that hasnt really been done before. But then, in a way, it has, just in different contexts. Also, there are some genuinely creepy moments and images throughout, and Wahlberg and Deschanel are a surprisingly likeable and believable couple. And, I have to say, nature turning on us and giving us the metaphorical suicide finger is always a little scary. For a movie hyped as Shyamalans first R-rated venture, however, its awfully tame, even compared to his previous films. Coming in at just a bit over 90 minutes, the whole thing felt like someone just didnt like the original finished product so they took a machete, closed their eyes, and chopped away. Love or hate other his other flicks (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water), each had a distinct voice; what The Happening suffers from is that somehow, it seems Shyamalan was stifled into producing a product instead of a story. Not necessarily a bad movie, The Happening is one of the few movies Ive seen that would have benefitted from being LONGER instead of shorter, if only for the fact that maybe it wouldnt have felt like the story had been cut into disjointed bits that only occasionally pieced themselves together. By the time the twist is revealed, no one really cares, and I, for one, was left feeling very disappointed.
It's Got: Some scary little moments, likeable main characters, and what couldve been a great premise
It Needs: Better editing, better marketing, better explanation
Nature turns mean, but not as mean as she could be in an R-rated movie, in this uneven wanna-be horror film.