A look back at Shyamalan’s ‘The Happening’

 Let’s take few minutes out of our very hectic schedules and look back at M.Night Shyamalan’s The Happening one more time, but this time through the eyes of the auteur’s fan. Ever since the film’s release back in 2008, I wanted to write about this movie. You are probably wondering why am I a writing this now and what took me so long. I honestly changed my mind to write about it, but since most of the critics and people all over the internet is going totally negative about the filmmaker, I thought to have everyone to look back at the film.

The Happening is a thriller written, co-produced and directed by M.Night Shyamalan that follows a man, his wife, and his best friend along with his friend’s daughter, as they try to escape from an inexplicable natural disaster. The plot revolves around a mysterious neurotoxin that causes any person coming into contact with it to commit suicide.  –  Okay, so many laughed and still actually poking fun at this film’s plot. I remember the first day the film opened and me right there sitting in a dark room with other strangers watching the film, I hear some people actually talking with themselves wondering on what’s going on in this film? I view films differently may be that’s why, but the plot is not funny. I find it very interesting instead. If have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, they go crazy for some unexplained reasons as well. Now, I am not comparing Shyamalan with Hitchcock, the reason I am bringing THE BIRDS as an example, for Shyamalan, on March 15, 2007 described The Happening as “a paranoia movie from the 1960s on the lines of The Birds and Invasion Of Body Snatchers.

About fews days ago Mr. Mark Wahlberg, the leading man in The Happening bashed and slammed the film while promoting his upcoming boxing movie “The Fighter.” I respect Mr. Wahlberg, he is a fine actor and one of my favorites. I was really excited when he signed the dotted lines to work with Shyamalan. Of course, after reading the script. I am confused on why he would bash the film while trying to promote his new movie. Or may be, he’s being sarcastic and he realized this that may be someone will ask him a question in regards to The Happening since he is promoting his new film. You can read the article here. And, last time I checked, I thought Max Payne was painful to watch.

The Happening received mostly negative reviews from the critics, but M.Night Shyamalan on June of 2008 before the first few reviews for the film came online stated to New York Daily News: “We’re trying to make an excellend B movie, that’s our goal.”

Stephen King liked the film, stating “Of Fox’s two summer creepshows, give the edge to The Happening, partly because M. Night Shyamalan really understands fear, partly because this time he’s completely let himself go (hence the R rating), and partly because after Lady in the Water he had something to prove. ” Critic Roger Ebert, of Chicago Sun-Times, awarding the movie 3 out of 4 stars, found it oddly touching: “It is no doubt too thoughtful for the summer action season, but I appreciate the quietly realistic way Shyamalan finds to tell a story about the possible death of man.” The New York Times’s Manohla Dargis praised Wahlberg’s lead performance, adding that the film “turns out to be a divertingly goofy thriller with an animistic bent, moments of shivery and twitchy suspense”.  Philipa Hawker of The Age gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars, commenting on “the mood of the film: a tantalising, sometimes frustrating parable about the menaces that human beings might face from unexpected quarters,” drawing especial attention to “the sound of the breeze and the sight of it ruffling the trees or blowing across the grass — an image of tension that calls to mind Antonioni’s Blowup. ” Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times stated “It almost dares you to roll your eyes or laugh at certain scenes that are supposed to be deadly serious. But, you know what, I appreciated this creatively offbeat, daring sci-fi mind-trip.”

The Happening has also attracted academic attention. Joseph J. Foy, professor of politics and popular culture, describes Shyamalan’s film as an expression of “post-environmentalism” in which traditional paradigmatic politics are replaced with a call for the world to “embrace a revolutionary reevaluation of wealth and prosperity not in terms of monetary net worth or material possessions, but in terms of overall well being. “ Foy praises the highly complex narrative in which Shyamalan weaves contemporary environmental challenges with hard science and social theory to create a “nightmarish future that… may advance the type of dialogue that can truly change the cultural conversation.”

There are good things to say about Shyamalan’s The Happening. Shyamalan stated in one of his interviews that in United Kingdom they are teaching the kids in school about the film’s subject. I am trying to bring in positive points here. Lots of negativity is pouring in from everywhere. I don’t know why they are picking it against Shyamalan. And most of these remarks sounds that they are taking it personal. If you are calling The Happening the worst film, then I am sorry for being straightforward, you just haven’t seen many films yet.

I would love to read the comments below. Give us your opinion. And, thanks to Wikipedia for the coverage. You can also discuss with us all Shyamalan’s films and his upcoming projects on our facebook page, twitter and also with me personally via my twitter here.




  1. Shyamalan is a genius. With an English Lit degree under my belt, stories (text and visual) that lends themselves to layers of analysis are like candy, and he supplies. His gift of writing touching relationships into thrilling/scary/complex story lines is incredible…but The Happening was a stinker, and I’ve always thought that a large part of that, actually, was atrocious acting, line delivery, and unbelievable emotional delivery by Wahlberg and Deschanel. Might it have taken at least a slightly better turn with different actors?

  2. The Happening is a movie that tells us that some strange events that happen in the world would never be explain. That was the whole point in the movie, and also the movie teaches us what people can do when there is no explanation for what terrible could happen. M. Night has made a good film that you don’t see too offend in hollywood today. He deserves praise for this project and hope he will continue on this path.

  3. I love all of Shyamalan’s films. My favorite is Lady in the Water. I can’t understand why people dislike it so much, its a beautiful movie. I do like the message in The Happening, its an important one.

  4. this is the only scary movie that actually scared me
    and I have seen many scary movies: the exorcist, the birds
    but the happening was something different
    I love this film and I’ll never forget it, my third favorite shyammy movie
    (after the village and the sixth sense)

  5. The Happening is a good storey , a very good idea poorly acted out. Wahlberg is not a great actor and did not fit the part at all!.But i think in some weird way Shyamalan wanted that B movie feel with poor acting and a sense of paranoia.For me it works.It took me awhile to appreciate the movie for what it is, a B movie.Does it deserve the hatred?NO WAY! Worst film ever?NO WAY!.Shyamalan will have better films but lets just say its 3/5 movie.

  6. It is the lack of vision on the part of the viewer that gave The Happening such bad press. One day the general population will elevate to a level where they can truly appreciate the genius of M. Night. Consider the mindset that conceived such a concept and the challenge he faced in order to act it out in a commercial venue. Anybody can through some flesh-eating zombies on the screen but very few can enact a scenario where mankind has to fear GRASS. Think about it!

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