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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Could "Happen" to You...
Maybe I'm the last one standing, but I am a rabid fan of Shyamalan and his obsession with taking horror/fantasy stories and giving them an A-list treatment. In "The Happening", Shyamalan tells the story of a high school teacher (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Daschanel) getting caught up in a catatrophic event where people fall under an unseen force that drives them...
Published on April 16, 2010 by G. Dowling

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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Off the Rails
The Happening is the story of a couple, teacher Elliott More (played by Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (played by Zooey Deschanel), who wake up one day to find that the east coast of the United States is under some sort of event/happening/terrorist attack. They flee the city via train, trying to escape this happening, and this is where the movie takes off.

I...
Published on October 15, 2008 by Amazon Customer


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Off the Rails, October 15, 2008
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
The Happening is the story of a couple, teacher Elliott More (played by Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (played by Zooey Deschanel), who wake up one day to find that the east coast of the United States is under some sort of event/happening/terrorist attack. They flee the city via train, trying to escape this happening, and this is where the movie takes off.

I have to admit, I liked the first half of this film, the buildup wasn't bad, and the script was pretty good. But then somewhere near the middle, during a scene where the protagonists exited a train, the movie went off the rails.

The last half of this film was a huge disappointment. The happening seemed to attack everyone but the lead characters, and the movie turned into a spoof of itself. The ending was flat, and you are left with an emotionless feeling; a sense of "why did I watch this" washes over you.

Unlike many people who reviewed The Happening, I am a fan of M. Night. I loved Signs, Unbreakable and Lady In The Water. But The Happening is not cut from the same mold. The script, especially the dialog, are horrendous and read about as hokey as it gets.

Rent before you buy this movie.
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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's Something Happening Here (What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear), June 14, 2008
We all know what started it. The Sixth Sense. Let me clarify, though. THE SIXTH SENSE was NOT a success because of its third act twist. Shyamalan's breakthrough film succeeded because he created believable characters dealing with a solid, definable conflict that came to a powerful, relatable conclusion AND THEN he introduced a twist. And not a cheap, showy, carnival twist, but a twist that ADDED TO (not reversed or mutated) the gut-wrenching emotional climax that preceded it. Although it got all the press, the twist in THE SIXTH SENSE was simply the icing on the cake of that film. And as any eight year-old kid who's been to a wedding can tell you, if you only eat the icing, all you get is sick.

Shyamalan has languished ever since, but only because he ended up falling for his own hype. He tried (and, I believe) set up an equally satisfying emotional bedrock in Unbreakable, but he expected his twist in that film to BE the resolution, instead of supplementing it. Bad idea. A twist is NOT a conclusion.

His characters and his conflict and even his conclusion were more solidly established in Signs, but -- whoops -- he was dead-set on tacking on one of his patented twists, and the story he'd created didn't really need one, so the twist came across as being not just unnecessary, but also ludicrous.

The Village came closest to reliving the old Shyamalan magic, and that was APART FROM the silly twist. Here we have a decent story, well-acted and well-established characters, and beautiful cinematography to boot. But, ruh-roh, here's that twist again, in this case, a twist that doesn't ADD to the climax, but which completely reverses it, casting an unflattering light on all of the characters and events and turning them into frightened, self-deluding caricatures.

Perhaps flailing against what he realized was a fatal adherence to his own fading glory, Shyamalan created Lady in the Water, the least twist-y of all of his films. He sets up a mythos, creates a filmic architecture out of a vague fairy tale, and gives us a sleight-of-hand ending that is only about as impressive as your average street side game of Three Card Monte. Not a bad movie, but certainly forgettable.

And now? THE HAPPENING.

Something happens, that's for sure. Suddenly people are freezing in mid-dog walk, they're losing their places in their books, talking nonsense, and next thing you know, they're jabbing themselves with hair pins, jumping from roofs, and hanging themselves with garden hoses. It's a biological attack! Terrorists!

The funny thing about THE HAPPENING is that Shyamalan doesn't even bother keeping his cards hidden. Elliot Moore (a Scooby-Doo-ish Mark Wahlberg), our protagonist, takes a quick Chemistry teacher-esque jab at guessing what's going on, and it's fair enough to say he comes close. At least close enough to matter. Because, aside from the actual "happening," there's almost nothing to the movie, other than a small group of people trying to find a place where it ISN'T happening.

And that solid emotional core that made THE SIXTH SENSE such a hit? Those definable characters? That relatable sense of suspense and connection? It's all a joke, here, and I'm not kidding. In fact, Shyamalan openly mocks the emotional Tootsie center of his film. When Moore discovers that his wife, Alma (played by a perpetually wide-eyed and vacant Zooey Deschanel), may have been unfaithful (he finds out, I'm just not going to tell you), the moment is used as a source of huckster's levity. In fact, every instance where character development is pursued is used to either add gags or fake punch (stinging orchestral "scares" or the sort of creepy vibes that are normally expected to accompany ambiguous, world-wide catastrophes).

The sad news is that Shyamalan still has not learned to go back to what initially made him such a hit. In fact, my guess is he's so desperate to reclaim that magic that he made the worst mistake of all. THE HAPPENING? The ENTIRE MOVIE is the twist. And that's all it is. If you're wondering what that means, then I'll rewrite THE SIXTH SENSE, in the spirit of THE HAPPENING:

Bruce Willis: "I WILL save this poor little boy, because I am an award-winning child psychologist."

Haley Joel Osment: "Did you realize you're a ghost?"

Bruce Willis: "I'm a ghost? Nooooooooooooooo!" (continues screaming "No!" for ninety minutes)

The end.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Day the 'Night' Stood Still, June 15, 2008
By 
Steven Reynolds (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
American cities of the northeast are plagued by an apparent terrorist attack in which people become confused then suicidal - leaping off skyscrapers, shooting themselves, impaling themselves with hairpins. As high-school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his unhappy wife and colleague flee to the country, it becomes evident the threat is more likely environmental. Nature is fighting back, with plants releasing some kind of toxin to defend themselves against the human industrial onslaught...

M. Night Shyamalan executes on this charming premise with a deliberate eye to the sci-fi B-movie, both in style and theme, with lashings of gore, a cheesy score, and expository dialogue that at times sounds more like a textbook. Sadly, however, it doesn't entirely work. Shyamalan's no fool. He wouldn't make a B-movie without a specific intention. So what's going on here? Is the substance connected to the style? Does Shyamalan want us to go back to the 1950s? Is he trying to tell us that cities are bad? Is he echoing E. F. Schumacher's cry that "small is beautiful"? Or is this a response to misplaced moral hysteria around 9/11? Falling bodies around 9.00am on a New York Tuesday certainly stir the echoes. Is he saying there are bigger threats to worry about than a few ideologues in planes; that 9/11, though a tragic event for those involved, is ultimately a miniscule blip compared to our disastrous global environmental trajectory? Or is it simply a musing on the fragility of humankind and the paucity of our knowledge? He'd be right on all counts, of course. But his intention is never clear.

As an argument the film isn't very convincing, and as a piece of entertainment it's worse. Shyamalan's core skills as a writer-director seem to have deserted him - there is no suspense, no real drama, no trademark twist, not even any really nice shots (except the chilling iconic beauty of the falling workmen). It offers just a vague kind of discomfort that's regularly undermined by the near-comic suicide scenes. Shyamalan seems creatively paralysed himself. Still, the film's not entirely without merit. Its difference to standard summer fare makes it reasonably engaging for much of its short duration, and the wheels only really fall off when Moore and family let the power of love trump the power of self-preservation with a very convenient outcome.

I think Shyamalan's also a victim of his own success - expectations are incredibly high for anything he does. From a young, first-time writer-director, this might be seen as competent Hollywood fare with an eye to tradition. From Shyamalan, it's well below par. Wahlberg is probably the strongest element here. He's regularly undermined by appalling dialogue, but his earnestness is endearing. Knowing where he's come from, as an actor and a person, to see him playing this kind of character in this kind of movie is nice.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Could "Happen" to You..., April 16, 2010
Maybe I'm the last one standing, but I am a rabid fan of Shyamalan and his obsession with taking horror/fantasy stories and giving them an A-list treatment. In "The Happening", Shyamalan tells the story of a high school teacher (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Daschanel) getting caught up in a catatrophic event where people fall under an unseen force that drives them to suicide. "The Happening" was ravaged by critics, and while it made a tidy profit at the box office, it was not the blockbuster Shyamalan has become accustomed to. This is a shame, because it is an accomplished and skillfull thriller that is very creepy and touching, and it does have the distinction of being his first R-rated feature (the gore is quite gruesome). I like the way Shyamalan portrays the possible end of days, very quiet, sudden, and hitting hard before people even realize the seriousness of their situation. The film blames toxins secreted by plants into the air as a strike against man for their cruel ways . . .sounds like the stuff of B-movies, which it is, but Shyamalan takes this story and puts the experience through the eyes of ordinary people (just as in Signs), making it chilling, very relatable, and suspenseful. Mark Wahlberg is excellent in the lead. He never becomes an action superhero or unrealistically smart, but instead his character's heroism somes from how he safeguards his wife and his best friend's daughter whom is charged with watching. The Blu ray edition of this film is excellent. Presented in 1080p, 1:85 aspect, the film demonstrates good color saturation, inky blacks, and strong detail. The veneer of film grain renders further details in fabrics, facial features, and textures. The DTS-MA HD lossless soundtrack is robust, sometimes bass-heavy, which superv ambient effects, especially in handling the wind gusts an rustling trees on the soundtrack. Dialogue is clear, albeit soft, which is a Shyamalan trademark. Special features are generally good and offer some insight, but a commentary would have been awesome. The BD includes a digital copy of the film for PC and iPod.
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66 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it happening?, October 11, 2008
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
OK...Umm...Uh...OK, just stall words to keep me from getting started. OK, here goes.

First the negative: "The Happening" just is not happening as a successful film. Did M. Night really think a movie with the wind blowing trees and grasses would be frightening? Or that the addition of music as a character with the wind would be ominous enough? Perhaps it is with Mark Wahlberg that he expected the movie to be scary. After all, Wahlberg is noted for his intense acting and those serious facial contortions. One scene shows a side view of his face all screwed up. All I could think was how deeply creased his forehead would one day be! A scary movie should not allow me to think that!

However, one of the few really scary parts occurred when the greenhouse guy was in the scene. First, he tells us that plants respond to human voices (true, long-time studies have confirmed this) and that they can respond negatively as well--deep foreshadowing! After the close-up of his misaligned facial features, I fully expected this dude to be hit with neurotoxins and go beserk. Didn't happen. Red herring!

Another really scary part involved the old woman living in isolation, who revealed herself to be beserk without help of neurotoxins. Maybe that was M Night's point: Nature needs to help along the deletion of unsavory human beings, especially including Average Joe (the construction site jumpers--it is no telling what they have done to the plant world!!), but also the truly insane (the old woman who wisely chose to live in the safety of isolation).

I'm going to leave the last three months alone. I could tear into the problems there, too.

Now the positive: Some of these comments are just the reverse of my negative ones. For example, the addition of Wahlberg in the film was a plus because of his intensity. He pretty much makes the whole plant thing believable--well, almost believable. I was even convinced his and Alma's love stopped the neurotoxins. Actually, because of the mystery entwined throughout the story, there is no reason not to think their love stopped the toxins. In other scenes the galloping fear of toxins seemingly increased the plant rampage.

Overcast skies, wind and music, discordance between words and actions, palpable fear, Wahlberg's panic attack, the Hitchcock-like house and old woman--all lent themselves to an increasing sense of unease to dis-ease. The film does work in some ways.

I leave further arguments to others.
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82 of 110 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Disappointing, October 10, 2008
By 
S. Schell (OH United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
Someone save M. Night Shymalan from himself. For a man who insists on writing, producing and directing his own movies, he's digging an early grave for his career as a filmmaker and "The Happening" has breached the six-foot mark for his burial. Sporting a lousy script and lousy performances to boot, Shyamalan's much talked-about first R-rated film is a travesty of filmmaking that deserves no better than a 30% rating. If it were a tomato, it'd be pretty darn rotten.

The film begins in the early morning hours in Central Park. People are milling about, casually strolling, going about their business. Two young women sit on a bench chit-chatting when one of them hears a shrill scream and turns her head in the direction of the sound. What she begins to see after a moderate breeze blows through are people suddenly frozen in their tracks, still as statues, an act that mirrors that of a real-life coordinated event once performed in NY's own Grand Central Station (and I have to wonder whether the film was somehow conceived from that). As she turns to her friend Claire to tell her what she sees, her friend begins mumbling incoherently and slowly removes the hairpick from her tightly wound chignon, deliberately stabbing herself in the neck.

From there, we are taken to a construction site three blocks away at 8:39 am, only six minutes into the future from the strange occurrence at Central Park. A body drops from a fatal height and several foremen rush to his aid, only to witness several more men fall to their death. We are then scooted along to a small high school in Pennsylvania where science teacher Elliott Moore (Wahlberg) is giving an animated lecture at 9:45 am. He is suddenly pulled aside by the school principal and taken to a room where the entire faculty hears of the strange events in New York. The American media assumes at first it is some sort of biochemical terrorist attack, due to the fact that only major cities are being targeted while small towns remain safe. This theory is quickly busted when small towns suddenly fall prey, the safe zones growing smaller and smaller as Elliott, his wife Alma (Deschanel) and fellow teacher and close friend Julian (Leguizamo) try to find a haven from this unseen and presumably unstoppable force.

"The Happening" glows with promise in its first ten minutes but withers quickly after, leading its audience into a deep dark abyss of disappointment. At a tight 1 hour and 30 minutes, the film is still agonizingly long, what with its laughable scientific theories and hackneyed performances. Wahlberg and Deschanel embarrass themselves time and time again, but I have to wonder whether it's really their fault. Is it due to Shyamalan's joke of a screenplay or his poor direction? These actors are better than this and their other films are proof of it. Leguizamo is the only semblance of a saving grace, making the most with what little he's got. The rest of the cast come and go, largely unknown and largely insignificant still.

Bottom line: There isn't much more to say about "The Happening" except that it ain't happening, if you get my drift. Feel free to watch it and formulate your own opinion if you wish, but don't say you haven't been warned.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst major release of the year, October 13, 2008
By 
S. Harris (Spotsylvania, VA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
The first twenty minutes are pretty good, but folks, by the end you will witness some of the worst dialogue ever written for film. So bad, that it might give The Happening a second life as a cult film (so bad, it's good). I couldn't believe the Amazon blurb above, that said Shyamalan is a genuis with dialogue. Shyamalan's camera work is, as always, good, and he was able to stock the movie with good actors -- but you have to give those actors something remotely believable to say! I think I read somewhere that Shyamalan said this was meant to be a B movie, only the best ever done. In his Legend-in-his-own-mind dreams! I'll take a bad John Carpenter effort any day over this limp stuff. This guy has a serious ego problem, and needs to give up script writing and start looking for outside material.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dust In The Wind. Actually, It Smells More Like "Dung"..., October 13, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
You don't have to be a major film fan to realize that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan basically has created movies that slowly go less and less into his first works The Sixth Sense in overall quality. But when it was announced that Fox wanted him to make his first ever "R" rated picture, would that be enough to break him out of his never-ending slump?

Nope.

The Happening stars Mark Walberg as a high school science teacher who among everyone else in his Pennsylvania suburb hears that an airborne biological terrorist attack has landed in New York causing it's victims to lose control and find a way to commit suicide. As residents flee towards help, soon they realize that this attack has spread over the Northeastern portion of the United States and that they're right in the middle of it. But is this plague manmade or of a more natural kind? Could it be caused by nature itself? Will anybody know or care after watching this dreck?!!?

I doubt it. While "M" and this film try to be all scientific-like interesting, it truly falls amazingly flat. To be honest, this is M. Night's absolute worse film. First, the infected all basically do the same thing which is babble for a second, walk backwards, and find some way to kill themselves, all the while looking like they are still in complete control. Another is the dialouge. While the acting isn't all that great to begin with, I personally haven't heard words written this bad since some kid named Anakin was breaking some pregnant chick's heart. At times I truly felt more for myself watching this than for the victims screaming at the sight of seeing a brisk breeze of air flowing ever so calmly in front of them. Oh my God, WIND!!!!!

However, an "R" rating does mean something had to earn it and in a small way it has. Some of the suicides are a bit clever, and yes, even reach R graphicness, but there's just not enough of them to save this movie. In fact, M. Knight himself (through interviews and deleted scenes) cut a few himself, not in fear of the MPAA, but out of thinking less is more. But trust me, the more the merrier really could have helped this fart of a flix. The disc itself does have alot of special features including deleted scenes (that are terrible), documentaries, and also a gag reel (that doesn't have one single blooper....where's the gag?). But no matter what he added to this presentation, nothing could change just how sophomoric and painfully lame this film is.

An amazingly bad movie, without any of the style this director made with his first three films, avoid at all costs. You'll never look at a wind-blown tree in a park the same way again. Because it will now forever remind you of this lame blowhard of a movie.
(RedSabbath Rating:4.0/10)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Make him STOP!, June 22, 2008
By 
DonMac "butchm" (Lynn, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
The most frightening thing here is that somebody lets MNS keep making movies. This is Soooooooooooo Bad. I went with a friend and as a result he has to do my laundry for year. Poor Marky Mark (I can say that cus he's from my old hood)comes off looking like such a dope. "What about those honey bees, guys? Huh? Does anybody care?" A science teacher role for him strains every last bit of credibility. Zooey D. looks like she's stoned the whole time. Leguizamo spares himself by cutting his wrists early one. Oddly, I saw audience members watch him, nod their heads, and go rummaging in their bags for their own glass.
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53 of 71 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly bad, October 7, 2008
This review is from: The Happening (DVD)
Let me preface by saying I'm not a troll that 1-Stars movies lightly. But this? It plays out like a parody of those old 1950s movies, before things like film-acting and special effects were invented (just kidding...uh...somewhat...).

Its been a looooong time since I've seen actors phone in their performances like Wahlberg and Leguizamo have done here. NO, WAIT! Tim Allen in ZOOM, yeah, its about that speed.

Truth is, though, when things fall apart, I'm a "blame the director" type of viewer (but come on guys, didn't you watch the dailies???). Fascinatingly misdirected by Shymalan, you will swear you're watching a student film. And I liked everything he did up 'til Lady in the Bathtub.

Beware: Zooey's facial expressions aren't for the faint of heart.
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The Happening
The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan (DVD - 2008)
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