The film, The Happening, follows a man (Mark Wahlberg) as he tried to save his wife and his friend’s daughter from an mysterious and lethal neurotoxin. The neurotoxin – supposedly released from trees – causes any person who comes in contact with it to commit suicide.
The movie is written, directed and co-produced by M. Night Shyamalan. Mr. Shyamalan has fallen from grace due to successive box-office and critical failures. Perhaps, that was why The Happening was declared a failure even before it was released. However, the film was not actually as bad as some critics tied to make us believe. The film had its moments of suspense with Mark Wahlberg’s rock-solid acting and an impressive haunting score by James Newton Howard.
The movie starts in New York’s Central Park where we see two women on a bench. One of the woman, without warning, commits suicide with her hairpin. The scene is followed by scores of people killing themselves across the city in a variety of different ways – apparently in manners that are most convenient to them.
As the suicides continue, Mark Wahlberg’s character escapes the scene on a train with his wife accompanied by a friend (John Leguizamo) and his young daughter. The train ends up in Pennsylvania’s wilderness.
Here, I will give credit to Mr. Tak Fujimoto, the cinematographer, for successfully creating an edgy enviroment already accentuated by initial body count.
While Mr. Wahlberg did manage to take the helm and maneuver his way through a weak story and an even weaker script, the rest of the cast, except for John Leguizamo, looked and acted as bored as the audience.
The only thing that I found amazing in the movie is M. Night Shyamalan’s uncanny skill of creating a horror movie without an viable villain. Despite the absence of a monster – even a logical threat – the director has succeeded in crafting a few really chilling moments. The movie ends as abruptly as it had begun while you are still waiting for something to happen. The movie concludes in Paris – Louvre Palace’s Tuileries garden – where we first hear a scream and then watch everyone freeze. Simultaneously, we hear wind rustling as the screen turns to black suggesting that the same events may be starting all over again in another part of the world.
To put it simply: It is almost tragic to see a gifted director like Mr. Shyamlan, failing, yet again, to make his mark. Unfortunately, The Happening is not even near his initial movies that brought Mr. Shyamlan into the limelight.