The Happening (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/06/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Shyamalan's latest supernatural thriller starts promisingly and has some suitably creepy scenes, but it's let down by poor direction and a laughably bad script that runs out of ideas about halfway through.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by M Night Shyamalan, The Happening opens with a large group of people suddenly standing still in Central Park and then killing themselves moments later. Soon, similar events are reported all over the eastern states of America, causing a mass exodus to less densely populated areas, spurred by media reports of a terrorist attack.

Caught up in the panic are school teacher Elliot (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), who put their marital crisis aside and head for the country, accompanied by Elliot's colleague Julian (John Leguizamo) and his young daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). However, it soon becomes clear that something other than terrorists is behind the attack and, worse, that nowhere is safe.

The Good
The opening sequences are extremely good and the various death scenes are both creepy and disturbing (e.g. the image of workmen plummeting off a building, as seen in the trailer). There are also strong performances from an under-used John Leguizamo and google-eyed character actor John Collison, who's excellent as a nursery-owning hippie who thinks he knows what's behind the attacks.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film is badly let down by a laughably awful script that's crammed with diabolical dialogue (There appears to be an event happening) and dreadful attempts at characterisation. Similarly, Wahlberg and Deschanel have both been brilliant elsewhere, so Shyamalan is clearly to blame for their unusually stilted performances and line-readings.

However, the film's biggest problem is that it completely runs out of ideas about halfway through and the ending is deeply unsatisfying as a result. And in case you're wondering what the trademark Shyamalan twist is, the twist is that there is no twist, although, fortunately, there's no Shyamalan cameo either.

Worth seeing?
Despite a strong start and some creepy scenes, the film ultimately fails to deliver on its premise. The Happening? The Crappening, more like.

Film Trailer

The Happening (15)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 16:18

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