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Movie Review

The Happening a.k.a. “Phénomènes,” “Zdarzenie,” “O Acontecimento,” “E venne il giorno,” “Fim dos Dias,” “El Fin de los tiempos,” “Green Planet,” “The Green Effect”

MPAA Rating: R for violent and disturbing images.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller, Suspense, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama, Politics
Length:
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
June 13, 2008
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Environment

Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer

What is man's responsibility to the environment? Answer

Bees in the Bible

Fear and anxiety

Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Death

Death

Final judgment

Violence

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Featuring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Bailey Jr., Spencer Breslin, Betty Buckley, Lyman Chen, Richard Chew, Victoria Clark, Frank Collison, Stéphane Debac, Joel de la Fuente, Tony Devon, Derege Harding, Edward James Hyland, John Leguizamo, Shayna Levine, Susan Moses, Ashlyn Sanchez, Jeremy Strong, Cornell Womack
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Lady in the Water” (2006)
The Village” (2004)
Signs” (2002)
Unbreakable” (2000)
The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Producer: Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer, Jose L. Rodriguez, John Rusk, M. Night Shyamalan
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“We’ve sensed it. We’ve seen the signs. Now… It’s happening.”

When Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), a young science teacher in New York, starts explaining to his high school class about the strange disappearance of the bees, it had me intrigued, because I had been taken in by that very real report myself when it came out in the news just last year. Oddly, the news has neglected this phenomenon ever since, and I had always wondered why.

Then, when I saw the Einstein quote sprawled across the blackboard in his classroom,

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.”

…my interest level went up a notch as well. What I had read about the bee population and how it can suffer serious effects and possibly vanish from a variety of natural-occurring chemicals in plants, such as ethanol resulting from the fermentation of organic material, stood out in my mind. The movie suggested that exposure to ethanol from fermented nectar or ripe fruits and natural chemicals in our environment, could cause a chain reaction resulting in life threatening consequences; it sounded fascinating.

I sat, eagerly waiting for the ball to get rolling. M. Knight Shyamalan hit upon a somber note for our survival here on planet Earth, that, by taking away our bee population, could in fact have a resounding domino effect on life as we know it, as well as wreck disastrous consequences on all human survival.

Not long after Elliot Moore begins the scientific discussion of the bees, there is news of strange occurrences—of people being suddenly confused, followed by loss of speech and within minutes later, death, spread throughout New York and it’s outlying cities. All inhabitants were being encouraged to evacuate. The high school students and teachers are dismissed, and we are swept along with the characters’ confusion and numbing this-can’t-be-happening realization that terrorists have somehow found a way to spread an airborne toxin throughout the US environment, with fatal accuracy.

While taking a train out of the city with his friend and colleague, Julian (John Leguizamo) and his 8 year old daughter, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) as well as his new wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), Elliot learns the event has swiftly spread to every part of the eastern seaboard of the United States.

People are dropping dead all around them, there is no apparent escape from the unseen menace, which somehow blocks human neurotransmitters making people kill themselves. Moving in small packs, survivors try, without much success, to run from their invisible attacker.

While they are searching for a safe haven, the back story running through the plot is centered around Elliot and his sweet wife, Alama and their being unable to express the love they truly have for one another. This sub-drama helps to bring what we are truly here on Earth for into strong focus. It, in many ways, proves to be a more solid story than the main focus Shyamalan was going for, and that is we might be unwittingly forcing nature to defend itself against our rampant pollution of (and killing off of) planet Earth.

As riveting and mysterious this all sounds as a storyline, it just doesn’t pick up enough momentum throughout the film to make an impact as it should. I enjoyed “The Happening,” and the performances were handled in a convincing, realistic way, right down to the news reports and people’s reactions to the surreal events happening around them. I believe that a lot of pressure has been placed on an M. Knight Shyamalan script to have the ultimate ‘ah-ha’ factor at the end, because of his success with “Sixth Sense,” “Signs,” and “The Village.” We want to be fooled by his movies, and I for one, always look forward to seeing him in some sort of a cameo appearance (ala Alfred Hitchcock), which I didn’t see in “The Happening.”

Although I enjoyed this film, I was disappointed with the flat feeling I had at it’s conclusion, and felt even a bit cheated because I could almost tell how it was going to end. I wanted to be surprised and wasn’t. I also was disappointed to find that the Einstein quote was not really Einstein’s, but ‘attributed to’ his thoughts on the subject. I felt like I was being subliminally preached at (yet again) about going green and the environment. The message of “The Happening” is—no one's killing us but ourselves.

The “R” rating is very appropriate. Although there was no foul language, nudity or sex, there was lots of death in all kinds of creative forms (and blood). A character stabs herself in the neck with a long hair pin, people fall from buildings and are shown lying in bloody tangled heaps on the cement, men and women are shown shooting themselves in the head, blood spurting onto the ground, a man’s arms are shown being ripped off by lions, a car is shown slamming into a tree and bodies go flying out through the windshield, and on and on. There is an instance where people are shooting themselves in front of the 8 year old character, and another scene where two teenaged boys are shot by a man with a rifle—more blood, and very disturbing, even to me as an adult viewer. This is not a movie for anyone under 16!

“The Happening” does portray with chilling realism what people might resort to if they feel scared and threatened. What desperate people may do to survive, and that, in itself, is a heartbreaker to contemplate.

There is a bit of humor spattered throughout to break the tension. Although some characters used God’s name as an explicative (“God in Heaven”), God was not mentioned as our comfort and our help in times of despair and peril. God was not held high as the one to mend a marriage or the One to turn to when there seems to be no human answer. I couldn’t help but hang my head and lament, a world without God as it’s comforter and deliverer, is world truly without hope.

If you are an M. Knight Shyamalan, Wahlberg, or Zooey Deschanel fan, you will probably like this movie, but it definitely is not in the same caliber as Shyamalan’s earlier works. On a Christian level, I would use caution when viewing it, because of the very graphic scenes of death, as mentioned above. Christian families should note very young children including ‘tweens’ should not be exposed to the horrific emotional impact it’s story and images portray.

In conclusion, my thoughts are these:

When we are with God, we are not alone in life. He shares life with us. He rejoices in our good times. He shares the burden of sorrow and hardship.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, will not we fear, though the Earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalms 46:1-3).

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalms 18:2).

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalms 55:22).

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalms 9:9).

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Many worthwhile themes emerged while viewing this disturbing and graphic film. People were making difficult choices regarding their families(Julian went back to find his wife and left his daughter Jess in the care of Elliot and Alma) Hard choice—loved both his daughter and wife! Also Elliot and Alma chose at the end to die together rather than be separated physically—took courage. When the group from the train was stranded at the diner, many people just drove off and wouldn't give others a ride. A big point was made as we watch cars speeding off as Elliot pleads, “we're without transportation! We have a young child with us!” No mercy was to be found, we think, then an older couple(nursery owners) take the 3 in their jeep.

Even Julian gets away back to the city. The 2 main characters had difficult conversations and were honest(not prideful) about their feelings toward one another. They stopped relating at a surface level, which they had been. Caring for another not of your own family, taking someone in and protecting and providing for her(Jess)was honorable. She was often presented as the most weak, tired and in need. The point was made many times over in the film, through Elliot's own teaching and the explanation provided by the scientist at the end of the film, that some things happen which are unexplainable and we need to be open to that in life. A possible cause was given—plants “fighting back” for environmental abuse they suffered from humans—but there is a much bigger cause behind it, for which no explanation is provided.

The message couldn't have been more clear: Science can't explain everything and we must not look to this to solve the deepest of human concerns. I was thinking throughout the film, “How would I behave in the situation? Would I be calling on God? Asking Him to be with me on that one day? Would I be asking those around me, ‘are you ready to meet your Maker?’ ‘What do you believe about Heaven?’” I did not see people calling out to God for His help and presence, yet I know He would be with anyone who truly cried out to Him.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Elizabeth Bartee, age 45
Positive—A terrorist attack unleashes on New York City, with the epicenter of the epidemic outbreak in Central Park. At first, people are paralyzed. But not all. Apparently animals like dogs and lions are unaffected as well as select few humans. However, paralysis quickly turns into self-destruction. Literally. A person's survival instincts are completely bypassed, resulting in throngs of people plummeting to their death, pointing loaded gats to their heads and pulling the triggers, or doing any number of other suicidal acts.

Before the news of N.Y. hits Philly, the protagonist, Mark Wahlberg, a Philly high school science teacher is in the middle of class. He tells his class about a colony, for lack of better terms, of bees that mysteriously disappeared some time ago. The explanation? Students guess. Pollution? Global Warming? Another student ventures to guess an act of nature. Bingo. And the kicker is… these unexplained occurrences in nature are sort of the umbrella term(s) used as the answer nine times out ten, Wahlberg explains. For the sake of reference and completeness, mankind adopts some theory or another to fill in the void where logic and deductive reasoning fail.

Soon, Philly is laid to waste by the airborne pathogen, but not before Wahlberg and Co. (wife and coworker's kid) and a few other faithful denizens escape by train. But with the rapid decline in the upstate yankee towns, the train stops in the middle of nowhere and all of the riders disband. Fearing impending doom, Mark and Co get a ride from an eccentric herbologist and together the funky bunch take off down the road. This is what I love about M. Night Shyamalan. His stories articulate three dimensional characters. Cf. Lady in the Water. In The Happening, the Nursery Caretaker is the token crazy guy. He's got the ol’ lazy eye and even a wooly beard. But what really makes this green thumb memorable is his affinity for hotdogs. He loves 'em 'cause they got a cool shape and they're full of protein; they're the true underdog food—unappreciated, underrated and good to go.

The Happening makes a huge cinematic boo boo halfway through. It gives a major idea as to why… well… the happenings are… happening. It's only an IDEA. For most viewers, the plausibility argument behind the happenings is gonna be tempting, nay inviting, to readily accept as 12 grain wholistic food. Don't. I think this is where the strength in Happening lies. Shyamalan sets up a classic riddle. The ingredients to the solution are all give in the first 20 mins. To solve the riddle, you have to pay close attention and watch (re read) several times through. Don't be fooled by the face value. Look for the deeper content, the themes explored with the bees and the mood ring, the scientific mumbo-jumbo answers for the not-so-clear. Heck, I haven't figured it out entirely just yet. This is Happening's strength. The forced replay in order to see the big picture.

This is my take. Now, Shyamalan may in fact have set up the movie with no hidden agenda whatsoever, in which case I'm way off my rocker. But I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt since linearity ain't in his creed. He goes for the unusual and strives for uniqueness. Don't expect a surprise ending; if you can honestly say you like 4 of his last 5 major films, then give Happening a go.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jacob Keenum, age 21
Negative
Negative—This movie is very disturbing. If you like M. Knight Shyamalan for his plot twists and surprise endings don't waste your time. The surprise is… there is no surprise. This director obviously wants to be the next Hitchcock, only he leaves very little to the imagination when it comes to gory violence. The main characters seem to have neutral moral character. The wife feels very guilty over flirting with a co-worker. And the main character only uses profanity when pushed to the limit. The whole movie is completely devoid of any spiritual references except for the Lord's prayer being uttered by someone who is about to kill themselves. And that brings us to the dangerous part of this film. When people are exposed to the neurotoxins, or whatever it is, they first become disoriented and then kill themselves.

The director delights in coming up with different methods for people to kill themselves with whatever is at hand. He shows up-close mutilations galore like, bullets to the brain and someone being chopped to pieces, as well as hangings, bodies splattering on pavement and shards of glass and knitting needles used as tools of suicide. The trailers do not show that aspect of the plot. Any emotionally troubled persons that view this movie would be at risk of depression and copycat suicidal tendencies. There is an underlying contempt for humanity running through the plot, and global warming is the only reason given in the film for the explanation of the mysterious “Happening.”

The plants are defending themselves against humans and are fighting back by releasing toxins. Whatever things are lovely and pure and of a good report, the Bible says, think on these things. There is nothing lovely about “The Happening” only morbidity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bill, age 40+
Negative—I always say anticipation is half the fun of anything, and that's about all I got to enjoy from this film. The Happening movie trailer thoroughly captured our families attention, and we had it on the calendar for the last 2 months as a family date night with our 19 year old daughter and 18 and 16 year old sons. I even pre-purchased the tickets. Just this morning, my husband heard some alarming things about the films gratuitous gore, so I went at noon to preview the movie. Needless to say, I don't recommend The Happening to anyone. We have loved M. Night's other films, but we were wrong to assume that “The Happening” would be along the lines of “The Village” or “Signs,” etc. Be warned, plot and spoilers coming.

The story line teaches that plants basically think for themselves, are tired of people subduing the Earth and thus send off deadly toxins to disorient people causing them to kill themselves in horrific ways. Some examples of the blood and gore scenes are a man starting a commercial lawn mower and laying down in front of it to get chewed up by it; a zoo employee walks into the lions cage and gets his arms chewed off one at a time before being eaten to death; people are shooting themselves and others in the head and viewers see lots of blood, etc. etc. The coup de grace for me was nearly at the end where they make it non verbally plain that Earth’s nature is more important than human life. Too bad these folk don't have the peace of believing Revelation chapters 21 and 22 and Genesis for that matter.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kris Pappuleas, age 43
Negative—I am a huge fan of Mark Wahlberg, in this film he did great, I just think as a Christian I believe at the end times that we will have a point to decide on which way to go when that time comes. But, too, I think the writer is to gruesome like Stephen King is.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Amber, age 28
Negative—This is the type of movie where you find out that you essentially saw it all in the previews. The scenes you see for the trailer/commercial/stills are the absolute high points of the film. See the trailer and you have seen the movie. There is only tedium between remaining. When the credits started to roll at the end, I wanted to scream “I Want My Money Back!!!… Is that it??!!!” Save Your Money!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jeff, age 42
Negative—I am so glad that I had free movie tickets to use for this movie! This movie was not scary or suspenseful, just dumb. I was very disappointed because I liked the director's other movies. In my opinion this movie is just a showcase for different ways for people to die and some of the images are quite graphic and stick with you. People were actually laughing in the theater when people died because it was so ridiculous. I would not suggest spending money to see this movie in the theater… either rent it or take my advice that it was a bad movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Holly, age 32
Negative—Although I am in total agreement with my fellow Christian's revulsion to the offensive material (violence, language, and using God's name as a curse word) depicted in “The Happening,” there is something much more frightening and threatening contained in it's overall message. This movie is preaching the very powerful and very real New Age message of Gaia (spirit of the Earth) and the well documented New Age “Plan” to cleanse the Earth of mankind, who is not considered to be part of nature but more of a virus, which needs to be eradicated for the benefit of nature. This point is well illustrated in the closing moments of “The Happening” when during a TV interview, a scientist is theorizing that the explanation that the “attacks” were localized because the deadly events were merely a warning to mankind. He said that the localized attacks were liken to a rash on the hand. This strongly implies, if not blatantly stating, that man is equal to some kind of organism causing disease and needs to be “cured.” The warning from Mother Earth (Gaia), the death of many thousands of humans, is that humankind must become one with nature, stop polluting the planet, or perish. Another major feature in this movie which gives away it's New Age agenda is the presence of the wind.

The movie implies that the vegetation on Earth is releasing toxins into the atmosphere, which in turn causes men to become confused and commit suicide, all for survival against the harmful affects of man's presence on the planet. However, what is strange is how the wind seems to follow and attack the humans with an intelligence. This also alludes to the spirit of Gaia. M. Knight Shyamalan is no stranger to lacing his movies with New Age concepts, themes, and agendas.

The Lord Jesus Christ forewarned his people, in the gospels, that in the end times people would persecute and kill Christians and actually believe they were doing God's work. We must take our Lord's warning very seriously and understand that in order for these prophesied events to take place, Satan must first condition society, spread powerful delusion, and completely blind men to the truth. Any movie, book, or doctrine, which equates humankind, God's greatest creation (in his Own image) to a virus or disease that needs to be cured, is definitely authored by the “god of this age.” Furthermore, “The Happening” is repeating and propagating the New Age concept of pantheism, that God is in everything, a force (like in Star Wars) and is not distinct from the creation. I strongly encourage any and all Christians to research (with careful prayer and all due caution) the New Age movement because we are not supposed to be unawares of the Devil's schemes. Don't see this movie and I for one will repent of seeing it and hope that it hasn't hurt me or my wife.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jerry Smith, age 38
Negative—Oh how disappointing! I just watched “Signs” for about the fourth time on DVD and CRIED again because it was such an AWESOME movie!! It reminded me of everything I did not like about “The Happening.” “The Happening” lacked all the major things that I love about movies like “Signs,” “The Village,” “Unbreakable,” “The Sixth Sense.” It's the fact that M. Night always has a redeeming message to the films. There is that subtle, sweet humor to his stories. You get drawn in and love the characters. You get very caught up in the scary parts of the movie, but it's always worth it in the end. This movie just lacked all of the things that make me go to an M. Knight movie just because he made it. Oh, I hope he hasn't lost his touch. Oh well, I guess nobody is perfect, except our Lord. Better luck next time M. Night!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Chris Wileman, age 40
Negative—MAY CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS! This film does not contain offensive swear words or nudity like most rated R films; however, it is extremely violent and very disturbing. The reason behind the violence is never clearly explained so it leaves you with images that will stay with you for a long time. There is no resolution that helps alleviate the shock that the film delivers. It is definitely not family friendly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jill, age 34
Negative—This is an extremely disgusting, disappointing, and disturbing movie on so many levels. In this film, humans are attacked by plants and then try to kill themselves as a result (but first they walk backwards for a while?!?!). The same ridiculous scene is shot over and over and over again …people are flailing off buildings, shoot themselves in the head, stab themselves in the neck with hair sticks, willingly have their limbs torn off by lions, throw themselves under riding lawn mowers, and bang their heads against brick walls and into glass windows. Do not waste your money on this ridiculous movie. It will have a hard sell in the rental market too, no doubt. Several people walked out of the theatre murmuring the words “stupid,” “dumb,” and “that was soooooo bad”!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kim, age 40
Negative—The thing I was most disturbed about with M. Night Shyamalan's latest offering was not the premise(very promising),or the underlying moral of the story, but the extremely weak execution of that premise. Is this meant to be a believable lesson of what would happen if we destroyed this Earth-would we destroy ourselves?, or a laughable parody of 70's B sci-fi flicks-some of the acting is so bad here it must be. The music and the acting or so over the top in tandem at several moments, and the dialogue so bad-that I thought 'This has got to be a joke'-or is it just fantasy like “Lady in the water” or a morality play disguised as a sci-fi flick like “Signs” At least with most of M. Night's films-which I love all of them, even “The Village” and “Lady in the Water”-you pretty much know what you have gotten by the end of the flick-as far as the director's intentions.

Here I'm not so sure-in fact, I am very confused, but I have no desire to see the film again to settle any questions. Most of the violent images are so over the top and exploitive-the very opposite of his previous film's such sequences. I agree with others’ reviews that point out that Betty Buckley's performance and character are the most believable, but the way her character is done away with is so poorly written. Maybe I just didn't get this film like I did all of his others, hopefully the next will be a true return to form for M. Night.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—David Momberg, age 46
Negative—I went to see this film after reading the review above. I thought that this was M. Night's worst movie yet. The acting was dull and there were scenes that could have been left out as they did not help the script at all. Profanity: There were five curse words in the film including one which graphically takes God's name in vain, as well as the vulgar term for a woman's anatomy was used. Overall, it was a disappointment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Joseph Veseli, age 32
Negative—As a fan of M Night Shyamalan's movies—I was curious but cautious in seeing his latest movie “The Happening.” I was cautious because, “Lady in the Water,” his previous movie, didn't quite provide the “suspense” or feel for reality like like his previous (“Unbreakable,” “Sixth Sense,” “Signs,” “The Village”). So I went with my 15 year old son, hopeful that the Alfred Hitchcock-like magic that we've seen in his first four hits would be on display again. Sadly, it was not.

While the move provides the initial suspense—it really fails in delivering anything of substance. The story is poorly written. The hidden messages of hope and faith and trust and love that I've seen in other M Night movies are weak in this one. And (spoiler here) there is no bona fide “hero” in this movie. The villain (if you want to call it that) just goes away—with only the fear that the villain might again return somewhere else. And, sadly, it is not the kind of villain our would be hero (Wahlberg) goes up against. I only can wish it had.

The bottom line is that the moving making quality is poor. In several scenes you can see the microphone boom above the actors—it is actually sorta comical. In fact, after seeing at least two instances of this, I begin to think M. Night was pulling a fast one on us—that the movie—was some how a movie about a slasher movie being made—and the joke and surprise would somehow be on us in the end. Sadly this was not the case.

I should add that the acting appears dumbed-down, and I felt a bit cheated as if the actors were hamstrung and not allowed to fully embody the characters they were meant to portray. This makes a less than a believable, suspenseful movie—a movie that I had hoped would have some hidden gem message. The only message I got was unfortunately centered on our environment. Weird.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Paul Gustavson, age 42
Negative—Since M. Night Shyamalan's first film, I eagerly anticipated his next. Always expecting a brilliance of storytelling and unique style and perspective, but never predicting his way of unfolding it. It is what I personally enjoy the most… the lead up to the unfolding, the build, the sometimes dark and subtle way of telling a tale, only to release you in the light… well, for most of his movies.

And I have been truly satisfied with every one of them. Until now.

The first 45 minutes was a truly M. Night style beginning… the catastrophe, the questions, the unknown. The dialogue and interaction between the characters were so believable, I actually commented during the movie how well done it was (I am usually silent when at the movies).

Then, the first half came and went, and the second half began to drag, and I waited for the build to the resolve… the much sought after answer to this great and terrifying mystery… this unseen menace that had the ability to drive people to that point…

And when it was over, I felt like I was the dumbest person for buying a ticket to see it. The dunce hat on my head could not have been any bigger.

Not only was it insulting to my intelligence, but insulting to any sense of reasonable logic!

I am sorry to say that this film has truly fallen far from the tree. It was not worth my time, it was not worth the language and seeing the grotesque ways in which people were dying, and it was simply not worth even trying to reason out the message of the story.

Save your money and wait for this one to come out on video, and please, be careful that your children do not see this (the frightening images of people dying). And if you do pass this one up, in my humble perspective, you really won't be missing anything. My personal rating on quality storytelling: ½
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—D. Caine Calhoun, age 35
Negative—I am so glad that I had free movie tickets to use for this movie! This movie was not scary or suspenseful, just dumb. I was very disappointed because I liked the director's other movies. In my opinion this movie is just a showcase for different ways for people to die and some of the images are quite graphic and stick with you. People were actually laughing in the theater when people died because it was so ridiculous. I would not suggest spending money to see this movie in the theater …either rent it or take my advice that it was a bad movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Holly, age 32
Negative—This movie was a complete waste of time. …Romans 1:23 says, “(they) exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” In this movie, the plants act as god, meting out “justice” to humanity for contaminating the Earth. The movie exalts creation to the place of a god. Please do not waste your time or give place to the world's perspective about this planet.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Stephen Supe, age 41
Comments from young people
Neutral—I honestly don't know what I think about this movie. On one hand it has some of the more unnerving and effective scenes I've seen in a horror movie as of late (excluding films I've re-watched) but it also has something that, by definition, good horror/thriller movies don't have, camp, and the acting in THE HAPPENING is ALL camp! The screenplay also leaves some to be desired, with the events not being the problem as much as the dialog. Could it have been a really good movie? Without the over-the-top campy acting and better dialog I think so, but that really brought it down for me in most places of the film. As for content, the language is mostly on the down low, no f-words or even s-words but a few others. Sex and nudity is non-existent; but the violence. The violence is a 9/10 on the scale, the scenes that contain violence are pretty unsettling. All of the violent scenes are suicides, and it is very in your face and deserves the film it's R-rating. Is it worth seeing the film in theaters, I don't think so. Is it worth grabbing the film on DVD, I'd say yes, what you think then is totally up to you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joshua, age 14
Positive—This was an extremely suspenseful film, I must say. Unlike “Signs” or “Unbreakable,” both by the same director, the shock is somewhat earlier in the film, and it ends on a somewhat darker note, although it does leave you sharing some happiness with the main characters.

The acting is very good, I would say. (Of course, half the reason I watched it was because it had Mark from “Shooter” starring in it.) There are no sex scenes or nudity, a few swear words. The violence is very creepy, not especially gruesome, as the people kill themselves. (A character will do something like shoot himself in the head, but you will only hear the gunshot and see blood pooling when they fall down. Bodies hang from trees, etc. Characters are shot, you only see some blood, no gore or anything.) Do not bring small children to see this movie.

It did annoy me a little when they mention several things from an evolutionary standpoint, but in this day it's no surprise. Characters cry out to God as “The Happening” happens to them. (Reminds me of the saying, 99.9% of the human race believes in God during horrible tragedies and such.) I greatly appreciate that the two main characters of the story are married, and not just living together or anything like that.

Overall, this is a pretty neat movie, definitely better than average. I would recommend seeing it, if you're in the mood for something suspenseful and creepy and with a plot that isn't very far from reality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Andrew Benson, age 16
Positive—This is my fave movie! The first time I saw it I was freaking out, but I love it!! hehe. There was absolutely nothing inappropriate in it. I was very pleased.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gabriella Westcott, age 14
Negative—Alright. So I went into this movie thinking it was going to be great. Well, I was horribly wrong. All the movie was basically was people killing themselves. It was just stupid. The acting was terrible, and the death scenes were disturbing. And then to top it all off, in the end we learn that the Earth is trying to kill us off! It’s totally against any religious beliefs. I think it had to be one of the worst movies I ever saw. I actually found myself laughing at some parts because they were so stupid.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Adam, age 16
Positive—Well, I saw this movie with my grandpa, and, to be honest, I was not offended by it. Although it was very violent, there was a bit of swearing, but there was not the f-word or anything, but it would be disturbing to a kid under 13. It was not scary; it was just weird if ill put it that way, but me as a Christian did not offend me, although I believe it did say GD once, but other than that I liked it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bobby, age 14