M. Night Shyamalan has one of the more wicked imaginations when it comes to screenplays. Shyamalan’s latest film ‘The Happening’ was his first foray into an R-rated film and a box office disappointment bringing in $64 million dollars with a $60 million dollar budget. Through all his twists and turns for all his releases, viewers have either been happy with his films or upset. With this being his third straight box office disappointment, is ‘The Happening’ a victim of people expecting too much out of the great writer/director or does he fail in a genre which he dominated film making?

I will admit that ‘The Happening’ is one strange film upon initial viewing and the story is something that suspends disbelief, even for Shyamalan. There is a threat that is causing people to kill themselves in all kinds of ways that you wouldn’t expect. In the beginning of the film, you have construction workers jumping off of buildings crashing to the concrete floor. A guy lies down on the lawn to get run over by a commercial size lawnmower. There are people hanging from trees as drivers pass them by in their cars. With all these unexplained deaths, it looks like it is the end of the world for the people living in the North Eastern part of the United States.

With all this madness going on, science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is in class talking about the honeybees going extinct and this gives us a bit of foreshadowing for what is about to come. There is belief that there could be a terrorist attack due to some of the unexplained deaths so Elliot and the rest of the teachers are called into a meeting. We then meet Elliot’s good friend Julian (John Leguizamo) whom is a math teacher at the same school and they discuss Elliot’s issues with his wife. Elliot, his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), and Julian with his daughter in tow decide to get out of Philadelphia. It leaves them to go on the run from whatever is causing all this chaos in the city and many of the survivors think it is poison gas.

I have been a big fan of Shyamalan’s work with ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’, ‘Signs’, and ‘The Village’. Shyamalan totally lost me with ‘Lady in the Water’ and has to be his worst work to date. ‘The Happening’ keeps you engaged and interested till the end of the film which is a good thing, but the ending leaves you wondering what did I just watch? I am not saying this on a bad note, but it leaves you with an empty feeling after going through an ordeal that the world is coming to an end. The story reminds me so much of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ except replace those birds with trees and a toxic gas which causes people to go haywire.

The acting wasn’t bad for the most part in the film, being a fan of Mark Wahlberg his performance just didn’t feel like he placed all his emotions into his character. His co-star Alma did a much better job in portraying her character which to me is the glue that holds this film together. Having another strong actor like John Leguizamo on the cast also helps out fill out some of the gaps by Wahlberg for a portion of the film.

Picture/Audio Quality
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio on a 50GB Blu-ray disc. The film print is rather clean throughout with a hint of grain filter in certain scenes. For the most part, the print is clean and detailed with a bit of softness in certain parts of the film. Colors are vibrant and the details in Alma’s blue eyes really show the work that FOX engineers placed into this print.

The audio mix is presented in a DTS-HD MA lossless mix that takes advantage of the soundfield with your entire surround working during the scenes where Mother Nature is at her best ripping and roaring through the open fields. Bass also plays an integral part during the tense scenes and it isn’t over powering either. The dialogue came through very clean and crisp through the center channel, and is a well balanced mix where I never had to adjust the volume to listen to the dialogue.

Special Features

  • Bonus View with Trivia Track
  • Deleted Scenes with introductions from M. Night
  • Train Shooting Featurette
  • The Hard Cut Featurette
  • Forces Unseen Featurette
  • “I Hear You Whispering” Featurette
  • Visions of the Happening Featurette
  • A Day for Night Featurette
  • Elements of a Scene Featurette
  • Gag Reel
  • Enhanced for D-Box
  • Digital Copy of the film

I will say that ‘The Happening’ is a very different film that doesn’t resemble a lot of Shyamalan previous work, especially those waiting for a twist like ending. This is not Shyamalan’s worst effort or his best. ‘The Happening’ is an interesting film that deserves a viewing if you are a fan of Shyamalan films or are interested in a film that offers hints of suspense. With a good picture and audio quality with the addition of a multitude of special features, the Blu-ray version of the film is a winner in terms of technical specs.

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