The Happening ★★

This movie is pretty obviously terrible, and a lot of people think the acting is at fault, and it's nothing to be proud of, but what Wahlberg's trying to do, this sensitive small-town science teacher schtick might have worked if the film had other intentions. What really sinks this thing like a rock is that Shyamalan of all people has forgotten the first rule of scary movies: Not knowing is scarier than knowing. One would think that a film with such an abstract title would not have trouble with this concept, but there are only a brief handful of scenes before both the audience and the characters know precisely what is going on, how far it reaches, and, most unforgivably, when it will end. I don't know why they took such pains to remove all uncertainty from a premise that seems rife with it, I suppose they thought the events might be more frightening if they seemed plausible, but since they're NOT plausible, they are in fact quite utterly IMplausible, I'd rather be left in a state of nervous, dreadful ignorance than have everyone trying to convince me how plausible it all is. And yet, one in every two dozen scenes contains a moment of primal fear that recalls Shyamalan's former reputation.