This new film by M. Night Shyamalan is so very obvious in its opening date of Friday the 13th of June. It is, according to a promo release, "a paranormal thriller in which a family must survive a global environmental crisis. The film will portray the earth's vegetation unleashing airborne neurotoxins that cause all those who breathe it to commit violent suicide."
Perhaps Mr. Shyamalan should have consulted a few studies on the role of graphic depictions of suicides in the visual media before he considered this motion picture?
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said it well in their headline for June 12, 2008: "'The Happening' should never have happened".
Excerpts from the Minnesota review give a sense of the graphic suicides awaiting theater goers who wish to have a pleasant night out, expecting one of Mr. Shyamalan's psychological brain teasers:
In an opening of Hitchcockian suspense, pedestrians in New York's Central Park become disoriented and halt in their tracks, then begin acting in bizarre, self-destructive ways. The effect is almost punctured by an onlooker's awkward dialogue ("Are those people clawing at themselves? That looks like blood!"), but a sequence at a nearby building site where construction workers leap to their death evokes grim memories of 9/11. The "event" initially is considered a terrorist attack, but as more and more neuro-toxin outbreaks are reported, it becomes clear that something else is at work.
And later, the Star-Tribune points out:
As the film progresses, we're subjected to dozens of grisly deaths, most shockingly a man wandering into the lion exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo.
This depiction bizarrely mirrors the fatal attack at the San Francisco Zoo last Christmas, when a young man, Carlos Sousa Jr., was killed by a tiger, allegedly having been taunted, perhaps parasuicidally, by Sousa and his two friends, the Dhaliwal brothers.
In conclusion, movie reviewer Colin Covert states it precisely:
The twist ending that was a fixture of earlier Shyamalan films is absent here. In fact, there's hardly a finale at all, merely a lazy coda that brings the situation full circle. "The Happening" never should have happened.
My worry is that M. Night Shyamalan has taunted death, not for himself, but for others, by making this film. He is guilty of placing fatal imagery of suicides out there, unnecessarily.
For those familiar with my book, you will understand this is not a call for censorship.