The Happening

Oh no it isn't!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 1, 2022 (URL is not
Available on: Hulu
Content release date: 2008-05-13

Review Rating: 5

Warning! Spoiler Review!

The first R rated film from Director Shyamalan, about a crisis to humanity on an undreamt-of scale.

Okay. We’ve seen the previews, where scores of people ‘fall’ off building construction in New York, and a woman on a park bench calmly makes for her own neck with her bladed chopstick. We’ve heard the tag line: We’ve Sensed It. We’ve Seen The Signs. Now… It’s Happening.” The real questions is, what IS it? I know, and I’m going to spoil it for you:

It’s plants. Plants, or generally the trees and bushes in this case, who for one reason or another began attacking humanity all up and down the east coast by releasing a neurotoxin that inhibits the survival instinct of humanity and boosts the opposite reactions, hence people begin killing themselves ASAP.

Shyamalan has frankly created another bomb of movie making, and this one might be the one that ends his career altogether, as it was touted loudly as his first R-rated movie and I didn’t see a single thing in there that caused even a tingle. The scenes where scores of people just stopped and stared at nothing for a long breathless moment and then began offing themselves were glossed over quickly, like the movie people wanted you to get the idea but only a whiff of it, so as to not scare you too badly. Which, I think, completely misses the point entirely. It’s not as though we need gallons of fake blood and the whirr of a bandsaw a la Hostel to enjoy the movie, but in The Happening we’re not even treated to a streak of fake blood on the ground. It’s like the whole world is just shy of the actual death scene, we’ll get right up to the last breath and then CUT! to Mark Wahlberg looking scared again. Great.

There are a few memorable scenes: a gun one man uses to kill himself is dropped and picked up by another and the process is repeated no less than 3 times; Wahlberg finds himself trying to reason with what turns out to be a plastic tree; and a young Private screaming “My sidearm is my friend, it shall not leave my side!” But on the whole, The Happening really isn’t all that happening. Big lead in, little payoff.

By the way, did you know John Lequizamo was in the movie as the father of the little girl Elliot and Alma end up rescuing? He had such a small part and was virtually cut out before the movie was even half over, it’s hard to remember he had a part at all.

While a lot of people will likely see this movie due to the director’s fame and the new-fangled R rating it earned, The Happening is more likely to piss off the plants by wasting paper for it’s DVD covers that will collect dust on a shelf.