I begin with full disclosure - I really dig M. Night. I like all of his movies. I just saw The Happening. And liked it - for the most part (more on that later). I think people are way too hard on him or don't know what to expect. The worst thing that he did was start with 6th Sense. It would have been like Hitchcock starting with Psycho. Seriously. A shock ending like that is so rare. He will never have another one, especially as long as people are looking. Hitchock built up to Psycho. The point of his movies wasn't to have a twist. It was to keep the audience in suspense for 90 minutes. And he succeeded. Even freakin' Birds is suspenseful as we worry if the stars will survive the killer crows. Is that any less believable than plotting plants? If everyone would go into M. Night movies with managed expectations, his movies would be better respected. Maybe we don't need another Hitchcock. Maybe all we need is more Asian baby screams. But I like a good ol' suspense movie. And I think M. Night does them well.
Now as for The Happening - The first 3 minutes, very solid. The next 25 was like he was trying to do something stylistic like make it look like a 12 year old directing his middle school friends all with middle school talent (seriously? a squirting head wound? and the tiger footage? c'mon, M). But then it gets good. It is a classic story of outrunning the doom. And with some good frights built in. Walberg settles into his role (or the audience finally buys into it). The story takes some interesting small twists. There's a creepy old lady which is always suspenseful. I give it a B-. And believe me, after 4 quarters at Baylor Law, I know a B- when I see one.