The only unfortunate happening here is audiences witnessing the five-film-step deconstruction of a writer-director's work.
M Night Shyamalan kicked off his Hollywood career with 'The Sixth Sense', a film with an estimated budget of $40m which earned over $500m in box-office takings worldwide. Fast forward a couple of years and his recent film 'Lady in the Water' wasn't able to break even. Understandably the pressure was on for him to deliver this time around. How disappointing.
'The Happening' is a 'Chicken Little'-style sci-fi adventure, only instead of the sky its vegetation particles that are falling down and threatening to end the world. The virus they cause disorientates humans before forcing them to take their own lives - the original inspiration for the aforementioned 'spectacular'.
Wahlberg plays a science teacher, who tries to save the planet and his marriage. Leguizamo plays his best friend and fellow teacher, desperately trying to keep his family alive.
In a recent interview, Jonathan Ross asked Wahlberg what would ordinarily be a mundane question but here is an essential one: why he took the role. 'The Entourage' producer replied that Shyamalan created the role specifically for him so how could he say no? Easy. Especially once he read the script.
Wahlberg wasn't the only miscast actor, though. 'Almost Famous' starlet Deschanel has had some quirky, unforgettable roles but this isn't one of them. In certain scenes she was so wooden it was hard to know whether she had been infected - and I'm not being smart. Deschanel isn't alone either; the dialogue, direction and pace all suffer the same affliction. Shyamalan's work is renowned for his atmospheric build-ups and that at least is present here - but only for the first 10 minutes.
'The Unbreakable' helmer is also known for delivering scary films with a twist. Here, however, there was no discernable twist, aside from the fact that at numerous stages, including one where Wahlberg talks to a plastic plant, you could be mistaken for thinking it was a parody or a comedy even. It may be laugh out loud bad at times but a comedy it is not. Nor is it an exciting suspenseful adventure, scary zombie thriller, gore-fest, romance or fact-based epic drama.
Aside from being an environmentally aware film, warning about the effects of messing with Mother Nature and her resources, 'The Happening' doesn't know what it is. The only redeeming feature is that the film is 90 minutes long, although little comfort when you're there.
He may well hit gold with his anime-inspired work for Nickelodeon or with his 2010 'Avatar' remake but for now it's Good Night Shyamalan.