I didn’t love all of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies leading up to The Happening … but I at least felt confident that I could defend them. That feeling stopped with The Happening.
The Happening Synopsis
A couple goes on the run from an apocalyptic crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity.
If you read the plot synopsis, The Happening sounds like The Day After Tomorrow with the family intimacy formula used in Signs applied to it. But actually it looks more like indie horror movie The Signal. Except The Signal is about people suddenly going insane and trying to kill other people while The Happening appears to be about people suddenly going crazy and committing suicide. The population of New York has quite literally become a bunch of lemmings, just point them to the nearest ledge.
The thing most people are interested in though, isn’t what The Happening is about, but whether or not its director M. Night Shyamalan has figured out how to get his head out of his ass. There’s no denying that his career peaked with Signs, and it’s been all downhill from there. The Village was a travesty and Lady in the Water was a disaster. Shyamalan’s no longer the box office bang he once was, and now his star has fallen so far that The Happening almost didn’t happen. Nobody wanted to finance M. Night’s latest pet project, and it was only after shopping his script all over town and then tucking his tail between his legs and agreeing to make studio required changes that the Sixth Sense director got the money he needed to shoot his script.
Stated plainly, Shyamalan needs The Happening to be a hit, or he’s going to end up directing lame Nickelodeon anime adaptations for the rest of his career. The good news is that he may have learned something from his failures. This is a different M. Night, a sadder M. Night, an I’m so sorry I made those awful movies M. Night. Rumor has it that he’s ditched his ego and started listening to other people. Maybe that’ll be enough to pull his fat out of the fire before another stinker cooks his bacon. Whether he knows it or not, M. Night is betting it all on The Happening.