Film Review: The Happening

M. Night Shyamalan's breakout hit, "The Sixth Sense," achieved just the right balance of creepiness, horror, supernatural thrills and pop psychology. The writer-director has been chasing those elusive qualities ever since, sometimes down intriguing sci-fi backstreets ("Signs") but more often down blind alleys ("Lady in the Water").

In "The Happening," he manages to recapture some of those elements, particularly the creepiness and supernatural thrills. But the central menace -- an airborne neurotoxin that causes mass suicides in the northeastern U.S. -- doesn't pan out as any kind of Friday night entertainment. The movie seems more like a '50s science fiction film of extreme paranoia or an episode of "The Twilight Zone" that even at a swiftly paced 90 minutes feels padded.

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