Movie Ratings, Family Movie Reviews & More!

The Happening


Latest Home Video

Oct 07, 2008

MPAA Rating:



Mark Wahlberg

Zooey Deschanel

M. Night Shyamalan.


Twentieth Century Fox

Still shot from the movie: The Happening.

Read Review

Reviewed by

Overall C
Run Time

Making the Grades

M. Night Shyamalan is known for his ability to use the mundane to create extraordinary suspense. The problem is he is so well recognized for this technique, along with his super-twisty endings (his most noted being The Sixth Sense) that anything else leaves the audience feeling shortchanged.

You better hang on to your coins...

In The Happening people unexpectedly start acting strange. It all begins in NYC's Central Park where people suddenly freeze like they are playing a game of Simon Says. Then they find the most convenient way to kill themselves. Some use hairpins, others borrow a policeman's gun. Construction workers calmly walk off the top of a building and hit the pavement with a thud.

Hearing of the trouble in the Big Apple, officials in Philadelphia warn their citizens to leave the city. Schoolteacher Elliot Moore and his wife Alma (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) join the surprisingly orderly exodus, along with Elliot's work buddy Julian (John Leguizamo) and his little daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). But their escape to the Pennsylvania countryside comes to a grinding halt when the train pulls the brakes in a little town. The explanation offered to Elliot -- who seems to be the only passenger wondering why they are stopped -- is the train has "lost contact" with everyone else. Strange, because passengers are still using their cell phones...

If you get caught up in logic during this film, you will soon find yourself wishing you had more popcorn. Instead, the creator of this picture is hoping you will buy into the big mystery of why people are committing suicide in the most bizarre ways possible. (Strangely, the deaths become so far fetched the audience in my screening began chuckling while a zookeeper fed his arms to hungry lions and when a man was mowed over by a giant lawn tractor.)

Obviously this film, which is Shyamalan's first project to get branded with a R-rating in the US, isn't suitable for younger audiences or those who would be disturbed by such portrayals. Thankfully, content in other categories is limited to a few mild profanities and terms of deity, along with one mild sexual remark.

Sadly, the greatest issue with this film is its lack of entertainment. Shyamalan (who acts as writer and director) clearly has talent, yet it feels as though he's trying too hard this time. As well, the performances are forced and the concept just doesn't come together. Certainly it's hard to live up to the grand endings he created in his earlier work, but with this adventure you leave wondering if anything was happening.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Happening.

M. Night Shyamalan uses colors in his films as themes. For example, the color red was a cue in The Sixth Sense. What is the predominant color in this movie? What message do you think he was trying to convey with this choice?

How does the use of everyday situations or objects to create terror leave you thinking about a movie afterwards? Why are the mundane things in life sometimes more terrifying than fantastical situations?

Canadian Movie Ratings

Not Rated Violence, Gory Scenes.
AB Not Rated Gory Scenes.
MB Not Rated Not Recommended For Children. Mature Theme, Disturbing Content.-----
QC Not Rated
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: 14A

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of The Happening...

The Happening happens on with a making-of documentary (Visions of The Happening), four featurettes (covering everything from a day-in-the-life of Night to special effects), deleted scenes (with introductions from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan) and a gag reel.

The Happening is also available on Blu-ray Disc. This version offers all of the above mentioned extras, plus a digital copy of the movie, and more featurettes.

Audio tracks are provided in 5.1 Dolby Surround (English) and Dolby Surround (Spanish and French), with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.

Add Your Comments

Commenting is restricted to members only.
Please log in below or, if you're not yet a member, please register.

Forgot password? | register

Please note: So we can maintain a website with content appropriate for all ages, we moderate all comments and will edit profanities, slanderous remarks and other inappropriate language. For these reasons, your comments will not appear immediately.

There are currently no comments on this review. Be sure to add yours with the form below.

You May Be Interested...

Also On The Web