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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Mark Wahlberg
Zooey Deschanel
John Leguizamo
Ashlyn Sanchez.
Directors
M Night Shyamalan.
Screenwriters
M Night Shyamalan.
Running Time
90 minutes

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The Happening
Mother Nature comes over all evil stepmother


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Plot
A plague of grisly suicides strikes the East Coast of the United States, in what appears to be a terrorist attack. Science teacher Elliott (Wahlberg), his wife, Alma (Deschanel), his friend Julian (Leguizamo) and Julian’s daughter Jess (Sanchez) flee the contaminated area and gradually come to understand the true cause of the disaster.


Review
The Happening
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Back in 2006, M. Night Shyamalan made an American Express ad. A year on, and he’s shot another advertisement, this time for environmentalism. The Happening may be longer than a conventional commercial but the levels of drama and plotting remain pretty much the same. For all Shyamalan’s noble intentions, one brief flurry of contaminated air and his latest creation is scattered to the wind.

Rumour has it that the studio thought the early drafts of Shyamalan’s screenplay a little, well, drafty, and that they asked him to rustle up bigger scares. The result is his first R-rated film, which, oddly enough, is also his least unnerving. For his monster in the woods, he turns to the woods themselves, harnessing the murderous potential of that meanest of mothers, Mother Nature, and unleashing her fury upon us via an airborne chemical assault.

The opening scenes in and around New York’s Central Park are unsettling - audiences may be wary of building sites when they wander home - but once the film sweeps into the lush Pennsylvanian countryside, the shocks dissipate. This is not a landscape that makes us feel uneasy. And unlike in, say, The Birds, nature remains a strangely intangible foe.
 
As with his last two outings, Shyamalan again asks much of his audience in requiring us to overlook the slim narrative thread. But in contrast to The Village and Lady In The Water, he does not offer us any incentive to invest in his flimsy tale. The director no doubt hopes that we’d follow his lead’s lead - Elliot (Mark Wahlberg) is a man of science, but he sees God in the numbers, heaven in the spaces.
 
It is a lofty, honourable ideal but Wahlberg gives us no reason to believe. In searching for his inner child, he seems to find only a poor representation of his outer one. Deschanel fares better - as the more sceptical of the two, she is not burdened with Wahlberg’s poorly crafted romanticism. Both are burdened with an appalling script, and appear to have been directed into a hyper-stylised type of 1950s B-movie acting that comically reduces the tension. Many believe that Shyamalan is a better director than writer. On this evidence it’s too close to call.


Verdict
A disappointingly slight offering from a filmmaker that we know is capable of so much more. Shyamalan says that The Happening was his easiest film to shoot. Sadly, it shows.


Reviewed by Will Lawrence

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Happening
Empire Star Rating

An instant comedy classic.

One of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I saw it in the cinema and litterally laughed loudly all the way through it. I'm talking full belly laugh here. Every single scene is pure comedy gold. Mark Whalbergs voice is so funny in it he should have one an Oscar. I didn't even know that just doing a silly voice could be so funny but the he keeps a straight face the whole time just makes it work. The are too many LSHIFASSCO moments in this to mention but here's a quick list of my favourites. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 17:48, 08 February 2013 | Report This Post


What is happening?

Back in 2009, when I first saw this, I wrote a review on Flixter which read “Simple question: What the hell was Happening???? More to the point… What was the point???? This movie was so diabolically pointless, self-serving and self-indulgent that words could never do it justice. Such a fall from grace from the man who brought us The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable…” In many ways, that sums this film up perfectly. On a second viewing, an almost three years later, I feel that I have just a littl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neopol at 11:22, 12 March 2012 | Report This Post


Oh no

How the hell did this happen. The beggining of this film was so good and then the bad acting spoilt it and that starts when that army man comes. You just can't help but laugh, the ending of the film was good too. The idea for the film was very good and this could of been a mutch better film if it stuck to the standards as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. It's almost like M Night Shyamalan wanted to make a rubbish film because Wahlberg and Deschanel are very good actors and Shyamalan is also bril... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 14:27, 30 June 2011 | Report This Post


Good

The film was actually good. But the script and acting was realy bad, disapointed with Mark Wahlberg. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:35, 19 March 2011 | Report This Post


I actually quite enjoyed this, i really liked the idea behind it. However I do agree the acting was awful, and made it difficult to watch. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by altongeek at 04:00, 22 October 2010 | Report This Post


Lack Of Pride?

Seriously. What does Shyamalan and Warlberg think they're playing at? I've always been a fan of both these two, but i can quite easily say this is the laziest direction and most lifeless acting i've seen in years. And it's a shame because the premise has so much promise. Come on guys, show some pride in your work! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by markieg_1983 at 15:41, 09 June 2010 | Report This Post


Boring

and funny in all the wrong ways. very dissapointing! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulscour10 at 13:55, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


what a let down

I was looking foward to watching this, as the plot was good. the opening scences looked promising but when it got 3 or 4 minutes in i noticed the very poor acting and rubbish special effects. so many films like this think its o.k to just fudge issues like , where did they get there cars from? the train guy who said.. we lost contact with everyone should of borrowed that old womens i phone! i don't know . i turned this off 15 minutes in. very poor. sad really as this had the potential of being ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sara.dutton@sky at 13:20, 17 July 2009 | Report This Post


Well done 'the happening'. You have officially made my top 5 worst films i've ever had the misfortune to watch list. Utter, utter toss. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mojopin8 at 21:49, 14 May 2009 | Report This Post


oh.my.god words really cant describe how simply terrible everything in this movie. Half way through, I convinced my self that it was a piss take. Really bad acting, worse diologue. I would happily watch anything with Paris Hilton then be subjected to tripe like this again ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Muse23 at 01:11, 05 April 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Guilty Pleasure

Oh my . What was Wahlberg ghy does every sentence he say end like ]? Deschanel and him act like they're in a high school project. Truly awful, its one of those films which is actually a struggle to finish. Rarely do you find a film where every single performance is stunningly shit. ... More

Posted by Felix at 10:20, 24 November 2008 | Report This Post


Guilty Pleasure

Whilst most critics and viewers felt that shyamalans latest film is simply ridiculous and daft I actually enjoyed it more than I'd like to admit. There are some genuinely great movie moments and I'm sure if the master of suspense had directed "The Happening", it would be considered a classic. Howvever, the dialogue is weak with most of Shyamalans efforts going on the camera work, editing and cinematography. However the main problem is Mark Wahlbergs performance which is totally wooden,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reejctell at 14:59, 17 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Better than I thought it would be!

Very disapointing movie, looked great from the trailer, the final result was a very over-the-top thriller, that every time a violent scene happened it cut away.... a lot of the implications were creepy but it could have a least shown them.... all the cast seem like they've been asked to act badly, and the eventual plot is so silly it beggars belief....   2/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 23:22, 02 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Better than I thought it would be!

L: Fluke Skywalker -The way that whole cafe emptied out and screeched off in various cars literally within seconds of learning about the supposed safe zones belonged in a comedy film. sp; Yeah that was quite funny.   I assumed most of the people in the cafe were from the train, then when thay all ran out and got in cars i was like WTF?   I still enjoyed it in a weird way though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by target at 21:16, 02 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Better than I thought it would be!

Saw this last night and was so underwhelmed by it. It just seemed unfinshed and shoddy. The opening was promising, but then just got silly. Mark Wahlburg's girlfriend was awfull, wooden and miscast. The part in the zoo was badly done and what was up with the creepy old lady...before the toxins got her? And the ending?? Very disappointing all round. ... More

Posted by Newander at 18:17, 01 November 2008 | Report This Post


Better than I thought it would be!

**** Shitloads of spoilers **** The fact I've got something out of all of Shyamalan's films must mean I'm officially a fan and The Happening as it happened was no different. It's strange because I never found it particularly scary, only a touch disturbing and quite funny at times. Contrary to other views I thought Mark Wahlberg was actually pretty good in a non-hardnut role although John Leguizamo was a bit wasted. Zooey Deschanel's character just came across kinda strange and the l... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 13:11, 29 October 2008 | Report This Post


I liked it

Not his best film and in the same minor league as Lady in the Water, but it's still a great film. More unsettling than actually scary, it has great gory moments (lions!) and Deschanel is great. Sadly Wahlberg is as wooden as usual and the ending doesn't have the oomph you'd expect, although the parting shot is quite chilling. Still for all its flaws I want to watch it again straight away! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 15:12, 27 October 2008 | Report This Post


not that bad. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Rokmabisniz at 14:18, 20 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

It still boggles my mind how the writer/director of th Sense, Unbreakable, Signs]The Villageme to this. p; Come on Manoj Mama (Indian for 'uncle') you should be doing better than this! ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 17:35, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

L: PerfectlyFlawed L: Goodfella L: Chris Laverty Not the only one. I reviewed the film at the time of release, loved it, and have been getting stick for it on RT ever since. Does anyone know of a post release interview with Shyamalan regarding the film? I'd love to hear his take on the negative press. I rented it on DVD and I don't think it has any special features and I have to return it to Blockbuster today to stop them giving me a silly 70p fine! don't think Shyamalan has do... More

Posted by Goodfella at 17:15, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

the idea behind it was sound,more like a twilight zone episode than anything else, but Wahlbergs performance is actually laughable, i had tears from laughing at his line delivery in this "what arent you more concerned about the beeeeeees josh!?" the beeeeees!" ... More

Posted by krudler at 12:57, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

L: Goodfella L: Chris Laverty Not the only one. I reviewed the film at the time of release, loved it, and have been getting stick for it on RT ever since. Does anyone know of a post release interview with Shyamalan regarding the film? I'd love to hear his take on the negative press. I rented it on DVD and I don't think it has any special features and I have to return it to Blockbuster today to stop them giving me a silly 70p fine! don't think Shyamalan has done any commentaries for ... More

Posted by PerfectlyFlawed at 12:17, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be ... More

Posted by kargon at 12:01, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

L: Chris Laverty Not the only one. I reviewed the film at the time of release, loved it, and have been getting stick for it on RT ever since. Does anyone know of a post release interview with Shyamalan regarding the film? I'd love to hear his take on the negative press. sp; I rented it on DVD and I don't think it has any special features and I have to return it to Blockbuster today to stop them giving me a silly 70p fine! don't think Shyamalan has done any commentaries for his previous... More

Posted by Goodfella at 10:05, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A Horrifiying Movie That Could Leave You With Nightmares.

Not the only one. I reviewed the film at the time of release, loved it, and have been getting stick for it on RT ever since. Does anyone know of a post release interview with Shyamalan regarding the film? I'd love to hear his take on the negative press. ... More

Posted by Chris Laverty at 09:47, 17 October 2008 | Report This Post


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