The Happening

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(2008) ★½

Film4: Saturday 5 September, 11.45pm

An outbreak of mass suicides sends biology teacher Mark Wahlberg (dismally miscast) and scatty Zooey Deschanel (dimly typecast) scurrying from Philadelphia for the safety of the countryside. But every little breeze seems to whisper… suicidal doom, for some unexplained reason. “Just when you thought there wasn’t any more evil that could be invented!” says Zooey, who we hope isn’t an English teacher.

In fact, she acts completely off the charts even before the panic sets in. There are some startling jolts in M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up to the fiasco of Lady in the Water. This would be his shot at The Birds. Except it’s not birds, it’s plants and trees. Not really the same thing at all. And that dreadful dialogue, dearie me. Still, the opening is genuinely chilling. But this decent idea is soon scuppered by wooden acting and assorted sappy touches. And I don’t just mean the trees.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 90min

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