Moving Pictures
Jun 18, 2008, 08:05AM

Not Happening

M. Night Shamyamalan's newest film leaves one reviewer absolutely befuddled without even considering the plot of the movie. Instead he's wondering what kind Happening made a once promising director completely lose his bearings.

What's happening to M. Night Shyamalan?

I remember a young, hotshot director who provided the most memorable twist ending of the 90s in "The Sixth Sense" (technically his third film, but his first big thriller). His next projects were worthy follow-ups "Unbreakable" and "Signs," the latter of which is particularly underrated as a family-friendly hair-raiser.

Then things went awry. Horribly, jaw-droppingly awry.

Whereas Shyamalan used to genuinely terrify with his ending revelations and atmospheric tricks, he seems more concerned with the shock value of his story than with harder-to-earn chills. Watch closely the scene in which a woman shares her digital camera footage of a zookeeper's last moments in a lion cage. Compare it to that well-known instance in "Signs" where we catch a glimpse of an alien through someone's home movie. You'll see the difference.

Wahlberg's performance is not a good one. He comes off as raspy, whiny, and generally miscast as the young teacher protagonist. Shyamalan doesn't help by lingering on his actor's befuddled face in close-up far too many times. He looks like a lost kitten trying to get back home (for Wahlberg, grittier, more intense roles).

  • I'd have to agree here, THE HAPPENING was absolutely horrible. Countless moments of absolute unintentional hilarity. Shamalamadingdong has certainly lost his touch, at least for tonally appropriate horror films. This may have been the best comedy of the year.

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