Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 38
  2. Negative: 18 out of 38
  1. 75
    A movie that I find 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.
  2. 75
    Even when his scripts aren't working, Shyamalan knows how to frame shots and build suspense. The Happening, even more than his previous films, has a visual elegance and subtlety that helps to overcome the less successful aspects of the plot.
  3. Reviewed by: Stina Chyn
    Whether you’re a casual or an ardent follower of M. Night Shyamalan's films, The Happening could alienate or dominate your thinking cap. Remember--it's perfectly acceptable to laugh one second and shriek the next.
  4. A divertingly goofy thriller with an animistic bent, moments of shivery and twitchy suspense and a solid lead performance from Mark Wahlberg.
  5. 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.
  6. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    If what audiences are looking for is a thrill ride, or even a pervasive eeriness, The Happening's just not happening.
  7. As for The Happening, his throwback horror flick that plays like "The Birds" meets "The Blob," it's beyond good and evil. It's dumbfounding.
  8. It's an entertaining movie, which is half the game, but it's not scary, which it should be. Neither is it something to be taken seriously, though it's intended to be.
  9. 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.
  10. 50
    Think of the worst Spielberg thriller or one of Hitchcock's dull late career works, then make it ugly and fill it with bad performances; voila: The Happening.
  11. Reviewed by: Robert Wilonsky
    What a bunch of nonsense--effective nonsense, chilling nonsense, occasionally wrenching nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless.
  12. It doesn't help that Wahlberg, whose work usually ranges from solid to inspired, is bewildering off-key here, though it may have something to do with playing off Deschanel, who reduces the whole marriage story line to a parody.
  13. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    In short, this is a Shyamalan movie minus the bravado, the swagger; there are no audacious attempts to pull out the rug from under the audience, no ham-fisted lessons about the importance of religious belief or the power of storytelling.
  14. Even in a misfire like The Happening, Shyamalan has a fine feeling for dread. He knows how to creep you out. But he has a tin ear for acting.
  15. 42
    Shyamalan has said he wanted to create the best B-movie ever made, but it fails to be the best C movie of the month. (Stuck or Zohan are better C movies.)
  16. The film never builds past its initial idea, the references to 9/11 feel cheap, the good actors are wasted, and the bad ones are distracting.
  17. Reviewed by: Will Lawrence
    A disappointingly slight offering from a filmmaker that we know is capable of so much more. Shyamalan says that The Happening was his easiest film to shoot. Sadly, it shows.
  18. The man who showed such promise less than a decade ago has been leaving a diminishing creative footprint ever since.
  19. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The old-school horror tricks (the fake scare followed by a real one, the safe haven that isn't) feel more like cribbing than homage, but they get the job done.
  20. After the insufferably dense mermaid mythology of "Lady in the Water," Shyamalan clearly wanted to keep things simple. He whizzed straight past "simple" to simplistic.
  21. 38
    A movie that features Wahlberg suggesting everyone try to outrun the wind can barely be watched once.
  22. 38
    M. Night Shyamalan's sixth film mines a rich lode of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it clichés, but while the set up is spooky, the development is heavy handed and marred by Shyamalan's inability to write natural-sounding dialogue or convincing characters.
  23. Reviewed by: 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?
  24. 38
    The Happening is a movie to walk out of, sleep through, or - best of all - not to bother with.
  25. It's neither dull nor stimulating, neither off-putting nor engaging.
  26. 33
    Shyamalan still has an abundance of personality and ambition, and there are scattered moments of craft throughout, but the gulf between his lofty aspirations and feeble accomplishments has seldom been wider or more chuckle-inducing.
  27. 30
    The Happening is both too incoherenly weird and too narratively ambitious for its own good.
  28. A high-toned revenge-of-nature horror picture, it's a little depressed, with only gross-out shocks (gushing jugulars, bodies run over by lawnmowers) to relieve the torpor.
  29. He still sees dead people, only now they're the best thing in the movie.
  30. Wahlberg turns in one of his worst performances ever, but then he's saddled with preposterous scenes.
  31. 25
    Film critics have been asked to say as little as possible about M. Night Shyamalan's new scare film about the perils of messing with Mother Nature. Fair enough. But I will say this: It's not happening.
  32. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    You feel like you're not watching the end of the world but the end of a career.
  33. Reviewed by: Ryan Stewart
    A disaster, representing a number of negative firsts for Shyamalan.
  34. Being risibly bad, The Happening is at least worth a laugh. Exactly one laugh, by my reckoning, and completely unintended but no less full-throated for that.
  35. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    And now we have this ill wind, this feeble gust of an environmental horror story. The writer-director's disintegration from robust artistic health to narrative incoherence, from hitmaker to box-office loser, has an almost tragic trajectory. It's a saga worthy of being told by the young M. Night Shyamalan.
  36. 20
    To be honest, I would be perfectly happy to walk with a zombie after ninety minutes of this; it would feel like light relief.
  37. 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?
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 569 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. IsaacC
    Jan 3, 2010
    Finally Score = Planet 1, Humans 0, I see Genius where humans took a back seat and you can tell by these ignorant reviews how lost we really Finally Score = Planet 1, Humans 0, I see Genius where humans took a back seat and you can tell by these ignorant reviews how lost we really are and sensitive to the possibility of nature being sensitive and defensive too. Truly a masterpiece and respects to all participants in down playing humans and upscaling the breathing breeze. Full Review »
  2. sLm
    Sep 30, 2012
    I don't get why so many bad critics xD the movie was good! No special effects needed, just nature to scary us. And also there were funnyI don't get why so many bad critics xD the movie was good! No special effects needed, just nature to scary us. And also there were funny moments followed by creepy ones. It was definitely NOT a bad movie. Full Review »
  3. Jul 7, 2011
    While this movie doe s pose an idea that could have been made into something interesting, M. Night Shyamalan fails to tell us a compellingWhile this movie doe s pose an idea that could have been made into something interesting, M. Night Shyamalan fails to tell us a compelling story with characters that don t make you want to slit your wrists every time they open their mouth, or do anything. Mark Wahlbergs acting is horrible, the little girl acting was better. The suicide scenes become distasteful. The character actions are unbelievable to the circumstances. M. Night Shyamalans earlier work was good, this is not. Pass. Full Review »