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There is something strange in the air that is turning normal people crazy in stages first they become catatonic, then crazy, then commit suicide in gruesome ways! What is causing this mind-boggling phenomenon? How do you escape it? This is what Manoj Night Shyamalam tries to tell us through The Happening, written and directed by him.
Shyamalam seems to have lost his touch. Groping in the dark, he is desperately searching for the magical ingredient that made his debut film The Sixth Sense, a success. The Happening is not happening; it is but a ghost of that blockbuster.
A high school science teacher (Mark Wahlberg), his flighty wife (Zooey Deschanel of the big blue eyes), and an innocent little girl in their care (Ashlyn Sanchez, nearly mute) face a deadly epidemic rampaging through Northeast USA. The cause of the catastrophe? It is predictably unknown; it might be the work of terrorists, a virus, a toxin in the air, or the legacy of nuclear malfeasance. Do they find out what is the cause? Do they find their way around it? Watch the movie if you want to find out.
The weakest link? Shyamalam has spent way too much time showing us innovative ways to commit suicide when his script was committing hara-kiri. The immense attention he has given to the gory details in close up, from different angles, with great frequency a veritable abattoir. Right from the opening scene, all we see are people dying in the bloodiest ways possible. The butchered scenes cease to make us queasy and uneasy after some time; by the time the story shifts to a town where people are hanging from trees in overly neat formations, mass suicides cease to shock. We don't even flinch at the sight of the bodies; we just wonder if and when Mark Wahlberg will find the cure.
Written and directed by Manoj Night Shyamalam, The Happening is repetitive in its bloody scenes, more so without a proper explanation or a conclusion. It is a pity he has added so much gore to stretch the film to 90 minutes. For a TV series like Twilight Zone, this may be a good script. Even Mark Wahlberg cannot save The Happening, because it just isn't happening enough. But for a full-length feature film, this is just too weak. So will it run for a week? God knows!
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin, Ashlyn Sanchez&others Screnplay&Direction M. Night Shyamalan
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Samuel L. Mercer&Barry Mendel
Cinematography: Tak Fujimoto
Visual Effects: David Weinstein
Art Director: Anthony Dunne
Music: James Newton Howard
Editor: Conrad Buff