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The Happening (2008)

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A science teacher, his wife, and a young girl struggle to survive a plague that causes those infected to commit suicide.


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3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nursery Owner's Wife
Joey (voice)
Construction Foreman


Elliot Moore is a high school science teacher who quizzes his class one day about an article in the New York Times. It's about the sudden, mysterious disappearance of bees. Yet again Nature is doing something inexplicable, and whatever science has to say about it will be, in the end, only a theory. Scientists will bring out more theories, but no explanations, when a more urgent dilemma hits the planet. It begins in Central Park. Suddenly and inexplicably, the behavior of everyone in the park changes in a most bizarre and horrible way. Soon, the strange behavior spreads throughout the city and beyond. Elliot, his wife, Alma, and Jess, the young daughter of a friend, will only have theories to guide them where to run and where to hide. But theories may not be enough. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happening.


Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

13 June 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Green Planet  »


Box Office


$48,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,517,109, 15 June 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$64,506,874, 18 September 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


To date, it is the shortest film of M. Night Shyamalan's career, with a running time of ninety-one minutes. See more »


(at around 58 mins) A man refuses to let Elliot and his companions into his house because he does not want to let the "poison gas" inside. However, all the house's windows are open. See more »


[first lines]
Woman Reading on Bench with Hair Pin: I forgot where I am.
Woman Reading on Bench: You're at the place where the killers meet to decide what to do with the crippled girl.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Moving clouds form the backdrop for the opening and closing credits. On the end credits, they've become stormclouds with lightning. On the end credits, M. Night Shyamalan's name vanishes. See more »


Referenced in Half in the Bag: The Visit and Turbo Kid (2015) See more »


Black Water
Written by Patrick Simmons
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

For those with imaginations... and attention spans.
13 June 2008 | by See all my reviews

I'm surprised this movie is getting as many bad reviews as it appears to be getting... but the occasional good review is very telling, especially Ebert's. I'd recommend reading his review because in my opinion he 'got it', and no need to repeat his observations here.

As usual, MNS comes up with a thinking-man's view of what exactly is disconcertingly eerie and/or profoundly horrible... that which you can't really immediately understand... and even more telling, that which is beyond controlling.

But if your imagination is such that the sudden downfall of society doesn't shock after the first random suicide of a person sitting next to you, or your attention span is such that watching a normally calming pan across a countryside turn into something deeply ominous for more than a few frames bores you, then this won't be a movie to your taste.

Within the microcosms created by MNS in his films, I never walked away with a feeling of having to suspend an untoward amount of disbelief... that seems to be a major complaint of many who are panning this movie, but I don't see it. I can only chalk it up to the 'cynical chic' of the South Park generation... those for whom empathy is an alien concept, to whom ennui is epitomized by screen images which don't provide visual bombardments even few seconds, and by whom mean-spirited irreverence is demanded in lieu of actual humorous or heartfelt dialog.

If the dialog seems simplistic, well, look a bit deeper and realize exactly what 'regular folk' might say or do if the events of this Happening actually were occurring... this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends... not with the bang of snappy repartee or quotable sound-bytes, but with the whimper of incredulity and dread.

Complaining about the acting or dialog in The Happening is like complaining about the 'jumpy camera work' in Cloverfield. In short, anyone who just doesn't "get it" to that extent really shouldn't be posting their opinions on movies.

Finding the truly human and poignant moments in the outwardly mundane yet intrinsically significant details of his landscapes and characters is one of MNS's great gifts, and he hits the mark here too.

The cinematography was superb, the actors all hit their strides, the story was compelling, the occasional odd character, visual pun, and good-natured joke worked well... no complaints on that score.

I even went in expecting to be underwhelmed by the acting of the two lead characters, but came out pleasantly surprised.

But then again, I loved The Village, and found many good things about The Lady In The Water... so I guess mine will remain the minority opinion.

But if you have admired MNS's previous work, you will enjoy this film as well.

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