M Night Shyamalan's attempt to claw his way back up the slippery slope to a commercial comeback is reportedly stymied by his own new film, The Happening.
Billed as a gut-wrenchingly intense tale of nature in a deadly conflict with humanity, the $57m (Dh209m) production premiered in the UAE last night before its international release today.
And reviewers who have already seen the film liken it to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds – without any birds.
Fittingly for a movie that releases worldwide on Friday The Thirteenth, Shyamalan's latest features a lot of death. Across the northeastern US, a neurotoxin is released without warning, causing people to kill themselves. In true Shyamalan style, nobody really knows what's going on.
And as the violent self-destruction carries on all around, schoolteacher Elliott Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), in the midst of a marital crisis, are among those trying to figure out what's causing the deadly outbreak. Turns out the neurotoxins are being released by plants, which is all we can reveal; any more and we'd have to kill you.
What we can say is a weak script is made worse by bad acting and plodding direction, according to internet reports. Wahlberg reportedly doesn't seem to be able to deliver, while Deschanel has no role to speak of.
Shyamalan has proved he isn't Unbreakable, particularly with the likes of Lady In The Water – but we'll be watching to see if he's committing career suicide or not.