The happening is a 2008 thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film stars mark Wahlburg as Elliot, a high school science teacher, Zooey Deschanel as his estranged wife and John Leguizamo as Elliot’s friend Julian, who teaches math at the same high school as Elliot. The film is set largely in rural Pennsylvania in the present or near future.
The film opens with a shot of central park, with two women sitting on a bench talking. Suddenly everyone freezes in place except for the two girls. One of them starts acting strange, asking what page she was on before grabbing a knitting needle from her hair and stabbing herself in the throat. More people are shown killing themselves, with several construction workers jumping too their deaths from the top of a building. The film then cuts to a high school classroom, where Elliot is conducting a discussion with his class about the disappearance of honey bees and its impact on the earth. The principal shows up and pulls him out of class to go watch the news reporting the large number of deaths in central park and the possibility of a terrorist attack. The students are sent home and soon everyone is instructed to evacuate, with Elliot and Julian meeting up in the train station and boarding a train to leave the city. The train eventually stops in a small rural town as they have lost communication with the dispatcher. The people from the train split off into groups and start to drive out of the affected area, with Julian leaving Elliot to go find his wife in Princeton and leaves his eight year old daughter with Elliot. The car that Julian leaves in quickly ends up in an affected area and the driver smashes the car into a tree. The car that Elliot takes is owned by a man obsessed with plants and his wife. They proceed out of the town, coming across a military private who suggests that they head towards unpopulated areas. A large number of people join them and they decide to split into groups. The larger group becomes affected and quickly use the private’s gun to kill themselves. Elliot and a few others escape to some farmhouses to wait the events out.
The writing of this film is rather poor. The concept itself, which is plants releasing toxins into the air which cause people to lose their survival instinct, is a rather ludicrous one, with multiple scientific inaccuracies as well as a lack of believability. The idea that every species of plant decided to start releasing a toxin which causes people to commit suicide at the same time is rather hard to grasp. Also, in addition to the ludicrous premise, the dialogue in this movie feels rather forced and contrived, and each of the characters are one dimensional. For example, John Leguizamo’s character is the mathematician and mark Wahlburg’s character is the scientist. They have no other defining characteristics other than their occupations. There have been movies featured on mystery science theatre 3000 that have more convincing plots than the happening.
The acting in this film is lacklustre. The leads are rather good actors, but all of them seem rather stiff in their roles. There is one particular scene where Elliot’s group is debating whether or not to head back to aid the other group that is in the middle of killing themselves. Elliot keeps asking for a minute, with other characters stating that they should head back and help. Each time Elliot responds with a flat “I just need a sec”. Even at the end when he shouts, he sounds very uninterested and is only half hearted. Another scene features a woman watching a video of a lion ripping a man apart and remarking very dully “what kind of terrorists are these?” The actors in this movie all seem rather uninterested, with most lines being delivered rather flatly.
Overall, this movie is rather dull. If your coming for the death scenes, there are only two that are rather shocking and if you’re coming to be thrilled, as the movies genre would intend, then you’ll be leaving rather disappointed. The acting’s dull, the premise is ridiculous and there are no special effects to look at. This movie is a bad, uninteresting ridiculous movie that leaves you with a feeling of unfulfillment.