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The Happening Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 10

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The Happening makes you wonder whether Mr. Shyamalan's own switch may have been flipped. How else to explain his film's befuddling infelicities, insistent banalities, shambling pace and pervasive ineptitude?

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  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Shyamalan isn't drawing the caliber of performances from his actors as he used to. Who can forget Haley Joel Osment's haunting portrayal in The Sixth Sense or that of Toni Collette, who played his mother, or Bruce Willis in arguably his best role?

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Some sure symptoms: The movie demonstrates a smart movie geek's obsession with the rhythms and gory details of horror storytelling, undermined by a pompous insistence on spiritual lessons of the tritest kind.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The movie seems more like a '50s science fiction film of extreme paranoia or an episode of "The Twilight Zone" that even at a swiftly paced 90 minutes feels padded.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Horror film is long on peril, but thin on plot.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this tense horror film is the first one from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan to earn an R rating -- and for good reason. It's loaded with violent, bloody images and is much more graphic than the PG-13 movies that have earned him a following among teens. It revolves around people falling victim to an airborne toxin that induces suicidal behavior -- consequently, there's a constant stream of self-inflicted deaths throughout the film, many of them quite graphic (falling from heights, gunshots, car crashes, heads going through windows, etc.).

  • Families can talk about what makes a movie R-rated versus PG-13. Parents, ask your kids' opinion on the difference in the two ratings. Do kids think they're ready to see R movies? Why? Explain why you want them to see things that are age-appropriate, and ask them why they think the studio made Shyamalan's "first R rating" such a big selling point. Families can also discuss what makes a movie scarier -- seeing horrible things happen or anticipating them? Why? Why do people seem so eager to embrace visions of terror and devastation?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The main characters have a somewhat troubled marriage; extensive discussion of "terror attacks" as the events in the film begin. One supporting character leaves his child with the main characters, a process that involves extensive discussion of human behavior in a crisis and responsibility. Many suicides.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Extensive violence throughout, primarily self-inflicted suicides through a variety of methods -- including a hairpin through the neck, leaping from heights, self-inflicted gunshot wounds, submitting to animal mutilation, self-inflicted car crashes, lying down in front of industrial gardening equipment, heads driven through windows, and much, much more. Two characters are blasted with shotguns on screen. Many of the violent sequences are quite bloody, and many dead bodies are seen on screen, from hanging victims to falling victims to bloody bodies in the distance.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false3

    Language: Sporadic, including "a--hole" and "p---y."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Only one brand is visible, on an Avatar: The Last Airbender back pack (director Shyamalan is making a big-screen version of the title, so it's likely a coy plug).

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue