If people die without any reason and nobody has any idea why, something is obvious: Master of suspense M. Night Shyamalan take a hand in this movie. But this time he seems to focus on sciences and nature instead of spooky suspense. All in all it’s an acceptable movie with a calm Mark Wahlberg.
In the middle of the Central Park suddenly a strange mystery appears. All at once people stop in the middle of what they were doing. Or that’s what it looks like at first. But after a short gasp they all start to attack each other. A few blocks away a nearly similar situation: Now construction workers are jumping from the scaffolding like lemmings and fade away. At the same time the science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is talking to his class at the Piladelphia-College. He tries to make his students aware that nature is changing. As an example he calls the mass mortality of bees. But the upcoming discussion is nipped in the bud, when the lesson is interrupted.
Science teacher Elliot (Mark Wahlberg) used to cite Albert Einstein.
His colleague and best friend Julian (John Leguizamo) convinces Elliot and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), to accompany him to the country until everything will be fine again. But Elliot’s relationship approaches a crises at the moment and he doesn’t know the reason. Along with Julian’s daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) the trio starts their journey. In the train they are informed about other happenings all over the country. When the train suddenly stops somewhere in the boonies, at once everybody is trying to contact their family or friends – and really gruesome details are revealed.
As in the newscast a terror attack is mentioned, panic breaks out. Now the friends are totally on their own and soon hunted by a gigantic and invisible enemy…
The travellers find some really scary serendipities.
If people are suddenly attacking or killing each other, the whole world starts guessing. What is the reason? Mass hypnotism? A misguided experiment? A Virus? Or biological weapons in the wrong hands? Or is just the nature getting back at the inhabitants? More and more questions and a director who stands for suspense should guarantee an entertaining movie. You might expect it even if “The Village” and “Das Mädchen aus dem Wasser” haven’t been very successful…
“If all bees disappear from earth, humans will live barely four years.” (Albert Einstein)
But “The Happening” offers only very little suspense but a surprising big amount of comedy. This is a mixture that will probably split the audience, as everyone expects this really big catastrophe, something that makes you afraid. But there is nothing, not even a bit. There are a lot of aspects beside the main storyline but they are all dead ends and disappear without closing: Why are some people resistant against the phenomenon? Where do all the bees come from? (Or at least what is the origin of the buzzling, as non-experts what not be able to differentiate between bees and flies.) And finally the music remains in the background all the time and cannot really support the action…
The strange phenomenon appears even on the countryside.
Despite all this negative arguments “The Happening” is enjoyable and the opposite of a typical genre-film. It’s a u-turn in Manoj Night Shyamalan’s own style. Overall the whole movie is focussed on the couple and the child. You can see the development starting with passively reacting in anxiety to courageously facing the danger in the end. Unfortunately at some time this is a bit to clichéd and of course the omnipresent fear of a terror attack had to be pressed into the screenplay.
“The Science will discover some reasons to present them in books, but they will remain theories in the end” (Elliot Moore)
All in all Shyamalan leaved a conflicting mark. “The Happening” is an eco-thriller which shows a lack of suspense but remains enjoyable – at least in all countries where it is not cut by censorship.