The Happening

Rated 2.0

As The Happening opens there is unrest in Central Park; there is trouble with the trees. Leaves flutter and passersby pause, blink … and start acting very strangely. Or, as one observer puts it, “Those people are clawing at themselves.” The big problem here is the premise. Not so much the premise itself (to give it away would be to give away the meaning of the film’s title), but how you convey the threat of an abstract menace. I mean, all of a sudden folks are killing themselves, but there’s no threat to Mark Wahlberg and his funky bunch of runaways other than the possibility that they might get suicidal themselves. Even when one character gets exposed and is supposed to seem threatening, there’s still no sense of menace there. In an odd way, it plays sort of like The Birds without the birds, or Night of the Living Dead without the zombies, dread or nihilistic ending. I was never bored, just mildly intrigued throughout.