Elliot Moore is a high school science teacher who quizzes his class one day about an article in the New York Times. It's about the sudden, mysterious disappearance of bees. Yet again Nature is doing something inexplicable, and whatever science has to say about it will be, in the end, only a theory. Scientists will bring out more theories, but no explanations, when a more urgent dilemma hits the planet. It begins in Central Park. Suddenly and inexplicably, the behavior of everyone in the park changes in a most bizarre and horrible way. Soon, the strange behavior spreads throughout the city and beyond. Elliot, his wife, Alma, and Jess, the young daughter of a friend, will only have theories to guide them where to run and where to hide. But theories may not be enough.
I have watched this movie twice, the latest being on .
Unfortunately, although the premise of the story was a good one — something I would describe as an “anti-‘War of the World’ theme” — it didn’t translate into a feature-length movie. This is similar to the disappointing ‘Be Kind Rewind’ which seemed an interesting story on paper and in trailers, but neither movie could carry feature-length treatment.
Aside from the initial idea, I thought the story and characters were weak, both of which were exaggerated by the poor pace and editing of the movie. Characters were arbitrarily introduced then abruptly forgotten about, something which is uncommon in Shyamalan’s previous movies, which usually feature well-written supporting characters.
I felt that Mark Wahlberg was either badly directed or confused about his character — something which I felt was evident even in the trailers — and was disappointing to watch. Thoughout most of the movie his performance seemed distant or simply didn’t fit the scenario and mood. Wahlberg’s performance, coupled with some wooden dialogue and a thin script makes this movie Shyamalan’s weakest yet.
Unfortunately, this movie isn’t even beautiful with no substance. The direction and photography were average at best and the entire movie, from script to promotion, seemed to be on auto-pilot. In summary, ‘The Happening’ is a disappointing movie by anyone’s standard, especially the now well established Shyamalan.
I still have faith — a theme the writer/director explores in a lot of his movies — in M. Night Shyamalan and hope he can get back on track with his next project. In the meantime, I recommend watching any of his previous movies – especially my favourite The Village, or the underrated Unbreakable with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
Shyamalan garnered many enemies after his last movie, Lady in the Water, which, although it wasn’t on par with his previous projects, I felt was harshly received. I also believe he might be under unwarranted pressure from the expectations and hype because of his previously acclaimed movies and is struggling to break from the cliché of twist endings. In my opinion, in his relatively short career Shyamalan has had four great movies, and two misses, but I think he will have another great movie if given freedom, time and the chance.