Something wicked this way comes in "The Happening," and when it does, you die. I can see some people—and some critics, who are almost like people—absolutely hating the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan. Like "Signs" and "The Village," it almost dares you to roll your eyes or laugh at certain scenes that are supposed to be deadly serious. But I appreciated this creatively offbeat, daring sci-fi mind-trip. "The Happening" starts on a seemingly peaceful day in Central Park.
Mark Wahlberg does a nicely understated job as Elliot Moore, a high school science teacher in Philadelphia. Nobody knows if it’s terrorism or something more ethereal that’s causing people to kill themselves. But fleeing the city seems to be a good plan. John Leguizamo plays Elliot’s best friend Julian, a fellow teacher who feels guilty because his wife is stranded in a town that may be under attack.
Like a lot of Shyamalan’s work, "The Happening" is reminiscent of an extended episode of the classic "Twilight Zone" series. And like last year’s "The Mist," it’s often more about how people react to a threat they don’t understand, than the threat itself. Once the explanation for "The Happening" is unveiled, or at least sort of unveiled, it’ll probably frustrate some viewers. Rush Limbaugh will probably mock it to death. I can’t say I bought it altogether, but I’m recommending "The Happening" for its quietly eerie scenes, some good performances and a few unforgettably chilling moments.