The early reviews for “The Happening,” M. Night Shyamalan’s latest flick, are not good.
Shyamalan states that the idea for “The Happening” — the entire structure and the characters — came to him in an instant as he drove through rural New Jersey and was hit by the thought, “What if nature one day turned on us?”
Fine, nice start. But all Shyamalan ever came up with is a start, an intriguing impetus for a story that ultimately goes nowhere and says nothing.
Bottom Line: This paranoid thriller has its moments, but weak story and characters do more damage than any neurotoxic menace.
Trouble is, it’s hard to imagine “The Happening” being greeted with much impassioned anything. Shyamalan’s story — about a married couple and a small child being driven farther and farther from civilization by a fatal airborne threat — covers territory already over-tilled by countless disaster epics and zombie movies, offering little in the way of suspense, visceral kicks or narrative vitality to warrant the retread.
And the filmmaker has fun with the cinematic conventions of social paranoia (all his most interesting minor characters with unusual faces are surely doomed) but is a sucker for overacting among his major players.
I dunno . . . the plot, about Mother Nature unleashing something that causes mass suicide, sounds great — and M. Night’s earlier movies (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and some of “The Village”) scared the heck out of me.
I think the guy has a legit claim as the modern Hitchcock.
Basically, he’s been tagged with the diva label.
My question is — did “The Happening” ever have a chance with critics?
Here’s the trailer: