So what is happening in ‘The Happening’?

When going to a movie written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan I am always there to check it out. Whilst most people do not like the way his stories are written, I am for one someone who enjoys them quite a lot. The subject of the stories, the way it is being told and of course the lessons people will learn from each one of his movies are always inspiring. Knowing this I went to The Happening expecting something like Signs or The Sixth Sense, a slow start with the story with some terrifying / tense scenes followed by (possible) explanations, lessons for us all to learn or appreciate and of course M. Night Shyamalan playing one of the characters.

The Happening film poster

*Spoilers ahead*

So the movie already starts with something out of the ordinary when two women on the bench are talking and one sticks her hair pin in her neck… wait really… reread what I just wrote. Seriously you see her doing this!

Now we switch to our leading man Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) who is teaching his class to think and reason why things might happen, like: “Why are all the bees disappearing”. Suddenly the class gets interrupted due to a “terrorist attack” (what is new these days right?). Apparently people all over New York and nearby regions are dieing. School gets cancelled and we see Elliot and Julian (played by John Leguizamo) walk out. They are debating whether or not to leave the area and Mark tells John he and his wife are having some relational problems. They however agree on coming to the train station and leave the contaminated area.

At the train station

At this point in the movie scenes are shown on “how to kill yourself in 3 easy steps”, seriously this movie should be called “Suicide guides for dummies”! Though some ways are very original, all they really do is try to shock you. So at this point in the movie you have to ask yourself, do you get scared easily? Do you like unexplainable movies with a touch of unrealism? If this is the case you are probably enjoying the movie at this point.

But we are trying to escape those damn “terrorists” so we get back to our main characters who are trying to flee Philly by train. Eliot is with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and Julian is with his daughter Jess. Now any moviegoer will predict the train will stop and that terrible things are also happening at the destination and… we are wrong… well for now.

The train stops at a small town and all contact has been lost (really? Yeah really!). The passengers go to a small restaurant and during diner it is suggested that all the suicidal people are not affected by some terrorist attack but by a “natural phenomena”. The toxins, created by this “natural phenomena”, switches off the part of the brain that keeps people from harming themselves.

O wait before I forget, Alma is getting calls from some random guy called Joey and she lies about it against Elliot. Somehow this is meant to be a reason to break up a relationship with someone.

Anyway where were we? O yeah at the restaurant the panic starts. (Finally!) Julian lost contact with his wife, some lady shows YouTube footage on her iPhone of a man feeding himself to the lions, so now hell breaks lose. Everyone splits up in cars and Julian begs Elliot to watch over Jess so he can follow his penis… I mean his instinct to go save his wife. The car with Julian of course dies and we can see yet another few ways on how to kill yourself.

Elliot and Alma meet some other people at an intersection and discover they are cornered. Each road leads to doom. During discussions with the other characters they come to the conclusion that plants can create the toxins and that they can communicate with one another. The toxins plants create are to fend of pests… so at this point in the movie our first lesson is learned: “Be good to nature, or they will hunt you down and make you kill yourself!”

At the intersection they decide to split up (For the love of God, why do people keep splitting up? This ain’t Scooby F*ckin Doo!). This bright idea has been concocted, because plants only attack large cities and roads… yeah right…

So everyone dies pretty much and only Elliot, Alma and Jess survive. We still get a good scene when they hide at an old lady’s house, which of course dies also. So that pretty much is the movie.

O there is this one part that Alma tells Elliot the truth about Joey. Do you want to know the truth? Are you sure you can handle it? Well this one time at band camp… wait wrong movie. This one time she and Joey went out for tiramisu… And what did Elliot do? He once bought cough syrup at the local pharmacy because the girl who works there is very attractive. But the wuss confessed that he made this up!

We cut to the next day and we find Elliot looking for Alma and Jess. The ladies of course ran outside to an old house which was a remnant from the pre-Civil War Underground Railway. The wind picks up so Elliot gets stuck in the main house and the girls in the old remnant thingy. By means of a speaking tube, Elliot explains that even one person can set of the toxin. So now what? Well of course they do not want to die like this and want to be together, so they confront the wind and meet each other in the middle of the garden holding hands, but nothing happens…

Awww... ain\'t that cute...

Next scene is set three months later when they all live happy ever after, with Alma even telling Elliot she is pregnant. Elliot happy, Jess is off to school so time for some… what? You are old enough to know what happens next!

In the last scene we see a scientist on a TV show warning that this event is just a beginning, a warning and that humans are to be rejected by the planet. The host says that if this was the case, it has to happen in other places. He will not believe it otherwise. So we cut to the gardens at the Palace of Versailles to see another event happening…

So is there really something happening in “The Happening”? Well to be honest not really, of course we see a lot of people killing themselves and lots of footage is quite graphic. But besides this, not much really is happening. I am a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan, but this movie just is a piece of bollocks. The points I even predicted were in it! Not a slow start this time, but death in like the first minute of the movie, followed by some explanation, which gets clearer later on. Also M. Night Shyamalan plays a small roll in the movie and we get to learn some lessons on how to behave in a relationship and that we have to preserve nature. If this suicide guide for dummies is the trick for it, I doubt it, but if you want to learn new and cool ways to kill yourself, this is a movie for you!

O and the acting, the trailer about the movie pretty much tells the level of their performance.

2 Comments

  1. FL · August 19, 2008

    I agree with you on the acting, it was pretty horrible, but I really loved the story behind the film. I don’t know, something about it kept me thinking about the film for another two hours after it. It seemed to make barely to no sense at all, but for some reason it kept inspiring thought.

    But still, definitely not Shyamalan’s best work. But it was still one of his usual “Think for way too much time after you see it.”

  2. criticasm.com » Blog Archive » YES! Is the new No in Yes Man · February 24, 2009

    […] he wants to drive home again. It is then when he meets the lovely Allison, you know the chick from THE HAPPENING Zooey Deschanel. Because of this – and some more of these “coincidental scenes” – he starts […]

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