M. Night Shyamalan is very adept at wringing suspense from the unseen and the unexplained; it’s the paying off of that mounting terror where he consistently gets his ass kicked.
Whereas Lady in the Water was an artistic self-immolation, The Happening (after a promising teaser) is beginning to look like self-parody. And while I’m all for filmmakers holding back the good stuff, Shyamalan’s track record suggests that his latest Serling homage will be another two hours of people frantically piecing together disparate or incomplete information to account for strange occurrences – and looking increasingly dumbstruck as they drift further away from a logical explanation (before inexplicably realizing that Uncle Gene’s rambling last words hold the key to humanity’s salvation). “Stupid fucking white people,” indeed.
Even if this just-released theatrical trailer is a whole lot of misdirection, and Shyamalan somehow brings it all together in a way he hasn’t since The Sixth Sense, I’m still getting awfully tired of his handsomely-mounted-Twilight-Zone-episode shtick; what might’ve worked on television (on a weekly basis) is terribly limiting on the big screen. Shyamalan can’t surprise us anymore. I’ve long felt that working from someone else’s screenplay might jar him from this sameness, but he seems completely unwilling to do that.
I don’t think I’ll ever skip a Shyamalan movie (he’s just too interesting, even in abject failure), but if he keeps getting stuck in his own head, there probably won’t be too many more Shyamalan movies, period.