Have you ever woke up in the morning, opened the window, and whilst staring out over you garden and wondered what might happen if that oak tree had decided your house was in the way of its view just before you pruned it back? Have you ever thought about what conflict could occur if the greenbelt felt that the new out-of-city retail park was restricting its expansion? No of course you haven’t, that’s just plain fucking stupid, just like the plot of this movie which, in a mismatch of obvious eco-centric postulation and Gaia theory, suggests that it could happen.
Yes, in a desperate attempt to regain his lost credibility, M. Night goes where many other attention seekers have gone and attempts to twist, exaggerate and exploit misconceived scientific facts in an attempt to shock us into changing our planet damaging habits.
On the day of ‘The Happening’ central park pauses for a few seconds. Once reawakening from the momentary trance the busy commuters proceed to kill themselves using any methods at their disposals; later in the day, another spate of suicides. As the remainder of the population evacuates in an attempt to avoid the increasingly occurring attacks, the story follows an open minded Biology teacher and his wife as they attempt to flee the infected zones. Initially suspecting a terrorist attack, the teacher, remembering that some plants release pest specific nerve agents, puts a correlation together which puts the trees and plants at the centre of every suicide; parks and gardens.
Don’t worry; this by no means has ruined it for you. I guessed it about 2 minutes before the hypothesis was put forward, and that was only 15 minutes into the movie. As this is an M. Night production I was expecting the big twist, but sadly it never came and throughout the remainder of the 1 hour 15 minutes the plot becomes sloppy and plain silly. For one, if I thought that plants were poisoning us I would head into the city, up one of those giant concrete saviours; but, common sense aside, where does our group take us? Into the countryside! Right into an am-BUSH!
It’s not just the plot which is bad. Considering the reputation of the director, and the actors at his disposal, the acting is plain shit. Mark Walberg plays a sappy bitch of a teacher, whilst his wife is so dopy I was beginning to think that the big twist was that she was a compulsive abuser of the nerve agent. Even when you consider the poor script they had to work with, everything seemed a little off, tone of voices, and reactions to key events.
‘The Happening’s’ only saving grace is that the violence in the movie is pretty hardcore when you consider the mass market the film was aimed at. Naturally what is shown is not particularly graphic, but you do see one lady stab herself in the neck with a hair chop stick which came as a bit of a shock, and a whole load of other grim deaths witnessed from afar such as a man lying down in front of a moving lawn mower and people jumping off buildings. Whilst the film is by no means scary the movie does generate a little bit of tension every now and then and there are a couple of jumpy sequences thrown into the mix too.
Overall though, the positives mentioned only act as a consolation as this movie is by no means good. It’s just about watchable if you were not expecting much to begin with, but when you consider that M. Night has produced some outstanding pictures, films like this and the equally shit ‘The Village’, only serve to frustrate you. Taken out of this context ‘The Happening’ is still shit, the phoney science is irritating and condescending to your intelligence whilst the acting and script are all of a poor standard.