M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller may not pack quite as much of a punch as some of his prior flicks, but it's every bit as deliciously dark and spooky as our favorites of his: "The Village" and "The Sixth Sense." Add the charm of Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel's quirky goodness and "The Happening" on DVD is well worth picking up.
The gory (seriously, no kids!) story starts out with a series of odd occurences: people throwing themselves off buildings, stabbing themselves in the neck. Of course terrorism is the first assumption, so cities shut down and we follow a young couple, Elliott and Alma (played by Wahlberg and Deschanel) hop a train out of town to escape. Onboard they meet Julian (played by John Leguizamo) and his daughter Jess. Eventually the four must disembark in a small town, and set about finding out what these "attacks" are, as they continue to spread and grow. Are they the result of terrorism, or as they, as some suspect, a harder to understand phenomenon, part of a revolt by the natural world.
Criticisms of the film center around the speed with which the first half develops, which to some feels too slow—especially for a thrill ride. Others have gawked at the sheer gruesome nature of the film (how much do you really need to see of a man being shredded by a lawnmower). While some of while the film is more graphic than a viewer might have expected, true to Shamalan form, the scariest part of the movie isn’t the jarring violence. It’s the mind games the gifted writer insists on playing with us that leave the biggest impression.
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