The Happening

The Happening ★★★½

"Can you believe how crappy people are?"

Fear of a crisis with no rational solution quickly mutates into fear of irrationality itself. It's everywhere, completely unpredictable and inescapable. You might as well run away from the wind. Shyamalan's too clunky a writer to quite pull off the tone here, which may be why a lot of folks missed that this is trying to be knowingly funny without tipping its hand at all (not assisted by an already-overly-earnest Wahlberg being directed to play everything entirely straight). But the visual precision once again comes to the rescue. The people are either crammed into stifling interior spaces or minimized in green, leafy outdoor ones, basically filling every single environment with the story's twin agents of dread, and the shock scenes are carried off in these quick, elegant Spielberg-y oners (like the chain of suicides with the same gun or the old lady smashing her head through the windows) or even just chilling single shots. This may not be a great movie but it deserves more than a stupid "so-bad-it's-good" dismissal.