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(2008), R [13-R*] (2hr 03min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
October 11, 2008
October 13, 2008

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2008), R [13-R*] ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Barry Mendel Productions. Blinding Edge Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, UTV Motion Pictures, UTV
Distribution (US): Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Producer(s): Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer, Jose L. Rodriguez, John Rusk, M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography/Camera: Tak Fujimoto
Music: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: Conrad Buff IV
Casting: Douglas Aibel, Stephanie Holbrook
Production Design: Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
Art Direction: Anthony Dunne
Viewed on Fox Home Entertainment DVD

This analysis is sponsored by E&HP and DC.

Unfortunately, since donations and funding have evaporated to very little, I can only give you analyses of films that have made it to video. The Happening is one. At least it has been released on video just a few days ago. So, though this analysis is rather useless to moviegoers, it may be of use at least to they who wait until a film comes out on video.

Surprisingly enough, the PG-13 master M. Night Shyamalan (The Village, Lady in the Water, Signs) did it again. But not by the faulty and continuously flittering standards of the MPAA. The Happening is indeed R-equivalent in Wanton Violence/Crime with and area score of 30 and deeply equivalent to R-rated films in Murder/Suicide with an area score of zero. But it is PG-equivalent in Impudence/Hate, PG-13 equivalent in Offense to God and G-equivalent in Sexual Immorality and Drugs/ Alcohol. There is one of the most useful tools the CAP analysis model -- specification of where the ignominy lies. The "big picture" magnitude of the content of this film, the "macroscopics" of it, is actually a middle-of-the-road PG-13 but the intensity and concentration in Wanton Violence/Crime and Murder/Suicide, the microscopics, are clearly R-equivalent.

And this is one of the reasons why we occasionally do an analysis of R-rated films. In addition, the model is built to include the four MPAA classifications of R, PG-13, PG and G. An occasional analysis of R-rated films is necessary to maintain the mathematical integrity of the CAP analysis model. How could we say a PG-13 or PG-rated film is equivalent to R-rated films and where they are equivalent if we did not do an occasional analysis of R-rated films? However, we will not do an analysis of any X or NC-17 film. They never have been part of the comparative baseline database and never will be.

The CAP analysis model is the only one on the planet that gives you so much useful data -- and objectively.

The plant life of the world is rebelling against man. They are apparently fed up with man's abuse of the Earth and are striking back. The plants appear to have banded together and created a gas that causes suicide.

One Tuesday morning at 8:33 AM a number of people in Central Park begin to act strange. As the trees and other plant life stir in the wind, one woman (Alison Folland) commits suicide by skewering herself with a large hair pin through her own neck. At least it looked like a hair pin, a very large hair pin. Large enough to probably be a defensive weapon used as a hair pin.

The story moves to a high school science classroom taught by Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) as he is interrupted by the Vice Principal (Kathy Lee Hart). Led to the auditorium, Elliot is told along with the rest of the staff by the Principal (Alan Ruck) that some "terrorist attack" has happened in Central park: that some airborne chemical neurotoxin has been released in the Park; that the stages of the manifestation of the toxin are confused speech, physical disorientation then fatality.

Advised by the Principal, all students and teachers are released. Now Elliot and his wife, Alma (Zooey Deschannel) become the focal characters of the story.

New York is to be evacuated. As Elliot and Alma proceed to leave NYC for Philadelphia. Elliot hooks up with Jullian (John Leguizamo), the math teacher since Jullian invited Elliot and Alma to go to Philly with him and Jessica (Ashlyn Sanchez), Jullian's daughter, to stay with his mother. Jess's mom got sidetracked by traffic and will take a later train. But little did Elliot know that Philadelphia has become "Killadelphia." As Elliot and company board the train and embark for Philly, a traffic cop blows a hole in his head with his own gun. A man picks up the cop's gun and blows a hole in his head. A woman picks up the gun and kills herself.

On their way to Philadelphia, Elliot and Alma learn of "Killadelphia." Serendipitously, the train stops at Filbert, PA where nothing happens. The train staff have lost all contact "with everyone." While everyone lounges at the Filbert restaurant they learn "If we stay here, we're gonna die here." They also learn the airborne "attack" that covers the Northeastern seaboard is not occurring 90 miles from Filbert.

Jullian has had it with his wife not being with he and Jess. His wife apparently took a bus to Princeton from New York. Catching a ride with the only Filbrert Restaurant customer seemingly willing to help anyone in this time of peril, Jullian leaves Jess with Elliot and Alma.

On their way, Jullian and his benefactor plus three others witness four people hanging by the neck in Princeton. Slowly the "gas" invades the ragtop Jeep they are riding in through a small rip in the ragtop. Soon all in the Jeep become overcome with the effects of the "gas." Within moments the driver (Brian O'Halloran) speeds into a tree ... intentionally.

That is just about the "rest of the story" since the rest of the story is also filled with suicides.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 30 out of 100
Content this investigation area found consisted mostly of views of dead bodies, some quite graphic. Other matters of the violent nature included demonstration of hysteria, zombie-like behaviors, screaming and talk of people clawing themselves with a witness asking "Is that blood?" Jullian tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists but it was not seen as fatal so this attempted suicide was incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime rather than Murder/Suicide (as an ex-medic I can tell you slashing the wrists is typically not likely to cause death). Only successful acts of murder and/or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide.

One other attempt to kill one's self was old Mrs. Jones (Betty Buckley) banging her head against the outside wall of her home then crashing her head, face first, graphically through a glass window. Though she died later off screen her death was not seen and was thus considered violence rather than suicide. [Ex 20:13]

Impudence/Hate (I) - 76 out of 100
Surprisingly enough for a R-rated film, the profanity was kept down to five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary. [2 Tim. 2:16 - 17, Col. 3:8] The atypically light profanity, Alma's lie to cover up her adulterous relationship with Joey and two adolescents asking nosy questions of Elliot about Alma were all that could be found applicable to the Impudence/Hate investigation area.

About Alma's lie. So many of us seem to think a little white lie is okay every once and again. Like, what's the harm? Everyone does it! Well, Jesus didn't. And God is rather harsh in His Word about lying. He warns that "all liars", unforgiven liars anyway, will not make it to Heaven. [Rev. 21:8]

Sexual Immorality (S) - 97 out of 100
Sexually suggestive content was limited to short skirts and dresses worn by high school adolescents. "What!? A short skirt/dress is in violation of Scripture?" Yes. Such attire is only to increase the amount of skin displayed, especially when sitting down or crossing the legs. A young girl was able to get John the Baptist's head in a charger by showing some skin. [Mark 6:22]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
There were no noted uses of illegal drugs, alcoholic beverages, tobacco or abuse of prescription drugs.

Offense to God (O) - 59 out of 100
The content applicable to the Offense to God investigation area included five uses of God's name in vain six times without the four letter expletive plus once with it. Also applicable to this investigation area includes the beginnings of an adulterous relationship Alma had with Joey (the voice of M. Night Shyamalan himself).

The story boasts a fantastically extreme reasoning about plant life being able to selectively launch attacks on mankind. God did not give us this planet to serve or to be subordinate to, but to use as we need. That, of course, does not include abuse of it as is mentioned in the film. He gave the Earth to us to be good stewards of it and its resources, for which we indeed are failing. [Gen. 1:27 - 30]

In addition, as is typical of Hollywood, faith in Jesus is vilified by portraying a "crazy woman" repeating a fragment of a Bible verse while walking backwards like a zombie. [Luke 6:22]

Murder/Suicide (M) - Zero out of 100
If someone kills others as he kills himself is it murder of the others? We think so. Therefore, the deaths of the three passengers caused by the Jeep driver killing himself is considered murder.

There were at least 37 suicides in this 127-minute film. Some were very graphic and some were off screen but many were dangerously realistic. The first was the young lady as she impaled her own neck with the hair pin with the viewer witnessing the pin piercing her neck. Four were seen hanging by the neck. One rigged a large lawn tractor to chop himself up. One case was a murder/suicide as a driver slammed his Jeep into a tree with four others in the car with him. One guy committed suicide by letting a lion attack him as the viewer watches the lion rip the man's arms off. As I said, "... deeply equivalent to R-rated films in Murder/Suicide." Though this film is equivalent to some PG-13 films in the comparative baseline database does not mean PG-13 films are acceptable. [Ex 20:13]


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Ex 20:13 Thou shalt not kill. (NIV) You shall not murder. [Suicide is murder of the self.]
  • 2 Tim. 2:16 - 17 But shun profane [ungodly] and vain [empty, useless] babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker...
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy (injurious speech, slander in this use), filthy communication [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene] out of your mouth.
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] fearful [deilos {di-los'}; timid, cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral], and sorcerers [all forms of evil/magic to force or do harm], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • Mark 6:22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
  • Gen. 1:27 - 30 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
  • Luke 6:22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    The Happening (2008) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - SCORE out of 100
  • periods of strange behavior
  • screaming in the background
  • talk of people clawing themselves "Is that blood?"
  • dead bodies, some with gore, repeatedly
  • sense of foreboding, repeatedly
  • hysteria
  • attempted suicide by slashing wrists
  • massive firearms - offensive
  • self-inflicted injuries - graphic

    Impudence/Hate (I) - SCORE out of 100
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, two by adolescents
  • lie to cover up an adulterous relationship
  • invasive, nosy questioning of an adult male by adolescent males

    Sexual Immorality (S) - SCORE out of 100
  • short skirts and dresses in high school

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - SCORE out of 100
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O) - SCORE out of 100
  • six uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive plus once with it
  • adulterous relationship
  • fantastic story of plant life selectively attacking man
  • vilifying faith in Jesus

    Murder/Suicide (M) - SCORE out of 100
  • at least 37 suicides and three murders

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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