Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Betty Buckley
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio; English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Supplements: Seven featurettes (“Train Shooting”, “The Hard Cut”, “Forces Unseen”, “I Hear You Whispering”, “Visions of The Happening”, “A Day for Night” and “Elements of a Scene”); four deleted scenes with director introductions; gag reel; trivia track; D-BOX enhancement; digital copy; previews trailers for 4 films
Length: 90 minutes
Movie Rating: ** Video Rating: ****
Audio Rating: **** D-Box Motion Rating: ****
“The Happening” opens with masses of ordinary people committing suicide in well-populated areas across the Northeast United States. Searching for an explanation, scientists and government officials theorize that the situation is the result of a terrorist attack on the country through an unknown biological weapon. As the death toll continues to rise, a group of survivors from Philadelphia flee the city hoping to find a safe haven. The group, high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), fellow teacher Julian (John Leguizamo), and Julian’s young daughter Jess, encounter several obstacles in their evacuation effort. After Julian separates from the group, Elliot, Alma and Jess meet up with a botanist who leads Elliot to believe that trees and plants are responsible for the chaos. I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs”. Those movies were compelling and intellectually-stimulating. “The Happening”, however, reminds me more of a B-Movie with its far-fetched plot and corny dialogue. Wahlberg, Deschanel and Leguizamo are all capable actors but this vehicle didn’t give them much to work with. The Blu-ray DVD is well-done with its fine audio/video presentation and decent amount of supplements, but I would recommend it for fans only.
The high definition video quality of “The Happening” is very good. Images are crisp with razor sharp detail. Blacks are uniformly deep throughout the movie. Colors are clean but intentionally subdued with a palette favoring blue and green tones. Other than an artistic choice of a light field of film grain, picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is also very good with the English DTS 5.1 track, which tends to favor the forward soundstage. Dialogue is always intelligible and properly positioned in the center channel. The surround channels are moderately active, utilized for ambient sound effects (especially the wind) and the music score, plus include a few split rear effects. The low frequency effects channel has some occasional rumble.
“The Happening” is compatible with the “D-BOX” Motion Code™ System, meaning that if you have the necessary D-BOX equipment, your movie viewing experience will be enhanced by adding both motion and vibration to your chosen seating. About 20% of this movie has motion effects and/or vibration present. Motion effects are present in the form of such things as strong wind gusts, human bodies crashing to the ground, gunshots, and vehicle impacts. My favorite D-BOX moment is where a group of people traveling in a car become infected with the self-destructive virus and then intentionally drive at a high rate of speed into a tree. D-BOX enabled me to feel the simulated jarring impact of the vehicle as it struck the tree. Overall, I would rate the D-BOX motion/vibration quality for “The Happening” as very good.
– Calvin Harding Jr.