The Happening (2008)

Nothing's Happening

A cryptic neurotoxin has been unleashed on the East Coast of the United States, causing anyone exposed to it to commit suicide, as science teacher Elliot Moore attempts to escape from the mystery substance with his friends.

There once was a time when M Night Shyamalan was a revered filmmaker, hailed as the next Spielberg with every new release highly anticipated. My, how times have changed.

The cast are all competent actors, but they all feel very miscast. John Leguizamo does not convince as a maths teacher in the same way that Mark Wahlberg isn't convincing as a biology teacher, and Zooey Deschanel is too quirky to be in this. It doesn't help how the film focuses too much on the characters relationships rather than on logic.

What really strikes me about this film is how much it feels like the plot points were done due to cost cutting measures. This is evident in how many times the cast is limited for ridiculous reasons and how the main villain is the wind.

The search for logic continues...

What's surprising is how unintentionally hilarious it was. Evidence of this is in scenes like Mark Wahlberg trying to outrun the wind and him talking to a plant. It felt like it worked better as an unintentional comedy as opposed to what it was trying to be, a bit like The Room, only with better acting.

The Happening tries to capture the fear people face when in the throes of an epidemic, but strays too far over the top. While the opening scene is intriguing enough and the cast are all competent actors, the glaring miscasting, the lack of logic and the poor writing all lend credence that it would be better for M Night to retire.