Urban Cinefile
"You know, your mothers are there and I'm showing my underwear. My underwear - it's a really big deal to show my underwear, that can be harmful later on in life - "  -Christina Ricci on shooting Opposite of Sex
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



It seems to come out of nowhere - strange behaviour, followed by death. Philadelphia high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) tries to work out a logical reason for it all, but it becomes obvious that he, wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), friend and Maths teacher Julien (John Leguizamo) and 8 year old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) must head for the Pennsylvania farmlands where they hope they will be out of reach of the attacks that keep happening.

Review by Louise Keller:
The Happening is at its most ridiculous when Mark Wahlberg's logic-driven science teacher, Elliot, starts talking to a pot plant in a bid to negate a potential attack of poisonous toxins. Never mind that the plant is plastic or that it sits in one of the rooms of a model home in the middle of nowhere. This is the world according to M. Night Shyamalan and nature is the villain in his latest sci-fi thriller. It seems the idea came to him as he drove across the new Jersey countryside, but sadly for Mr Shyamalan, the ideas that have been coming to him since his brilliant debut with The Sixth Sense are progressively worthy of less merit and more deserving of ridicule.

To the strains of James Newton Howard's orchestral score, the film's credits begin over a clear cobalt sky in which white fluffy clouds form and reform until the sky turns to an ominous indigo and the clouds are steely grey. It is 8.33am in New York's Central Park and people become statues before mass suicides begin. It is 8.59am in New York when men begin to fall from a construction site like lifeless objects. Then at 9.45am we meet Wahlberg's science teacher Elliot in a classroom in Philadelphia, who makes a practice of working out case studies based on percentages and probabilities. And so begins the road-trip for Elliot and wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), who try to find 'safe-zones' at the same time as solving their marriage problems. Wahlberg remains intense throughout while Deschanel looks constantly puzzled. Other players include John Leguizamo as Elliot's colleague, his 8 year old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), Frank Collison as a crazed nursery owner with a penchant for hot dogs and former musical star Betty Buckley as the ultra strange, hysterical Mrs Jones.

Various theories are floated. Is this a terrorist attack? Are the trees and bushes letting off toxins? Is there an electrochemical in the brain blocking neurotransmitters? Adding to the irritation, the script is peppered throughout with phrases like 'Could this really be happening?' 'Why is this happening?' 'What is happening?' I inwardly sighed with relief, when someone muttered 'This is the end, isn't it?' But alas, it was not. Shyamalan restrains from making a screen appearance this time, although in what could be considered as an even more pretentious gesture, is credited as Joey, Alma's unseen would-be lover, who sends her text messages.

Special features include deleted scenes with introduction from M. Night Shyamalan, plus a handful of featurettes 'I Hear You Whispering', 'A Day for Night', 'Elements of a Scene Featurette' Forces Unseen' plus gag reel.

Published October 16, 2008

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

(US/India, 2008)

CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Robert Bailey jr

PRODUCER: M. Night Shayamalan, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shayamalan

SCRIPT: M. Night Shayamalan


EDITOR: Conrad Buff IV

MUSIC: James Newton Howard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannine Claudia Oppewall

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes




SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scenes with introduction from M. Night Shyamalan: Elliott and Alma Fight; Lion Attack; Music Recital; Survivalist Porch; The Hard Cut Featurette; "I Hear You Whispering" Featurette; A day For Night Featurette; Elements of a Scene Featurette; Forces Unseen Featurette; Gag Reel Featurette

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 15, 2008

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020