The Gist: When people start acting oddly and then committing suicide in highly populated areas, everyone starts leaving for the countryside. The phenomenon is inexplicable and at first attributed to a terrorist attack via a toxin, but when the spread reaches less populated areas as well, people have no where left to go. Elliot and Alma come to the conclusion that it's the trees that are releasing the toxin, apparently in a worldwide conspiracy to winnow down the human race, now considered a pest to be removed.
Well, here we go, yet another movie by M. Night Shyamalan, yet another disappointment. I'm starting to wonder how this guy even gets all these projects greenlit!!
I think he's pretty good at directing, it's the screenwriting part that hurts him. He really needs to get a professional to hand him scripts instead of trying to keep complete control over the process, when he clearly seems to have great and original ideas but average writing skills at best.
The Happening is filled with Shyamalan's usual tropes: regular people seemingly stumped by unusual, inexplicable events, a fair amount of death and gore, and a sometimes successful attempt at creating suspense. The audience, meanwhile, experiences high hopes going in that this movie will finally mark his comeback, the subsequent feeling of dread, halfway through, that this might just be another dud, followed by the ultimate realization that maybe you've been giving this guy way too many opportunities at redemption and it's now time to cut the umbilical cord.
Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel seem to be doing their darndest to salvage this runaway train, but they can only do so much, and honestly look at times like they are way out of their depths.
The Bottom Line: The Happening feels more like a kids' story or what should have been a television show episode more than a full length feature, but since it is, forget it. It's weak, somewhat boring, and ultimately unsatisfying.