When I first saw The Sixth Sense I was amazed. I begged my friends to go see it and ended up watching it 6 times in the theater. When it came out on DVD, I was the first to buy it and when the special edition double disk was released, I didn't even hesitate. I tell you all of this to say that I am a huge M. Night fan and it only got better with Unbreakable and Signs.
The Happening was no let down. It was a complete and total disaster. I left the theater wishing it had never happened.
The movie opens with a familiar scene: two girls sitting on a bench in a park. You know the scene. It's the same one everyone saw in the trailer, except this time with blood. From there, we are taken to different locations in the park where more scenes from the trailer unveil themselves. I can now safely say that I have seen every way known to man for someone to kill themselves.
From the beginning, the uninfected characters either showed no emotion or had overly animated emotions, which led to several giggles and laughter from the audience. Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel also showed a lack of interest. From Wahlberg's whiny voice (which often sounded like an 8th grade boy begging his girlfriend not to break up with him), to Deschanel's total lack of excitement (which was reminiscent of her unenthusiastic character in Tin Man), their attempts at bring their characters to life often fell short. With actors of their caliber, I can't think of anything other than bad direction to pawn this tragedy off on.
However, the film almost redeems itself when survivor Elliot Moore (Wahlberg), his wife, Alma (Deschanel), and their newly acquired daughter (sorta) take shelter at a quiet looking home nestled far from outside civilization (no, not the Village). There they meet Mrs. Jones, an old widow, who turns out to be the only terrifying part of the film, and possibly the only one on set who felt like acting. She actually scared me.
I wont give away the ending (for those who still want to see it), but I will say this: If an outbreak like this was to hit us for real, it would have started after tonight's screening.
Some may say that this is M. Night's attempt at breaking away from the box that his previous movies held him in (including the PG-13 rating), but I hope that it will only serve as an example of what not to do with his future films.
M. Night, come back.