The Happening (2008, Disaster Horror) – 7/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Mark Wahlberg: Eliot Moore
Zooey Deschanel: Alma Moore
John Leguizamo: Julian
Betty Buckley: Mrs. Jones
Producer: Sam Mercer
Producer: Barry Mendel
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Producer: M. Night Shyamalan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan: Joey

Happening, The (2008)

Fleeing from the city after some kind of outbreak or terrorist attack starts causing people to catatonically commit suicide, science teacher Eliot Moore and his wife struggle to make sense of what is happening. As they head toward a reported safe zone, though, the attack starts catching up with them.


Much maligned and mocked by the most vocal contemporary critics (Ebert aside), this disaster horror movie is tightly packaged, tense and disturbing. It’s a natural disaster movie premise treated seriously and without histrionics and is all the more affecting and thought-provoking for it. Mark Wahlberg, an actor I normally dislike, is good here and Shyamalan successfully anchors his film to him. Instead of an earthquake or tsunami or tornado or asteroid, The Happening presents a fantasy natural disaster but, and this is probably where the eyebrow-raising stems from, explains it as a malevolent evolutionary response to humanity’s existence. It’s interesting how people who readily accept plant evolution as fact refuse to accept plant evolution as a plausible storyline in a fictional movie.

This movie contains extremely unpleasant and potentially disturbing scenes.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.


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