Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said the film lacked "cinematic intrigue and nail-biting tension" and that "the central menace ... does not pan out as any kind of Friday night entertainment."
Variety's Justin Chang thought the story "... covers territory already over-tilled by countless disaster epics and zombie movies, offering little in the way of suspense, visceral kicks or narrative vitality to warrant the retread."
Joe Morgenstern of Wall Street Journal said the film was "woeful clunker of a paranoid thriller" and described it as "befuddling infelicities, insistent banalities, shambling pace and pervasive ineptitude".
Critics will be critics. I think their favourite method judging Shyamalan's movies is by comparison. They compare it with his first success The Sixth Sense and with other filmmakers of the thriller genre. Or maybe, just maybe, the critics don't understand the seriousness of the values and message weaved to his movies. The suicide phenomena in The Happening revolves around the implication of human destruction of the environment. He presented a theory that's so imaginatively realistic and heartfelt it inadvertently sends chills up my spine. I prefer a thriller with a realistic implication of realization and fear than a thriller with strong cinematic performance.
Lady In The Water made me cry like dying old man. It's not supposed to be a sad movie but I find his idea of existence very very relatable. And I liked it when he killed a film critic. He's sending a subtle message: critics can kiss my black indian ass! Critics responded by giving his movie terrible reviews and potrayed him as a narcissistic and arrogant human being. Instead of ignoring this movie, review readers like me was curious as of how this came to be, what made critics scathed his movie more than they ever would to the American Pie Chronicles, only to find out the human side of critics. They were angry because they were potrayed as useless witless stuck up wads so they souped revenge.
Remember that time when Yasmin Ahmad was heavily criticized by Raja Azmi and Faisal Tehrani. Yasmin Ahmad, whose movies and advertisments were screened worldwide and introduced our very own Malaysian culture was bombarded by criticism by a novel author whose book did not even reach 3 km off the parameters of Malaysia and the director of Haru biru. Yes, the director of Haru Biru. Yes yes, she's that bad.
Don't judge a movie by its reviews.