Movie Review: The Happening
The kicker is, the happening only happens in one part of the world, Northeastern United States, ostensibly as a warning. A warning, I guess, that rural Pennsylvanians are most to blame for the impending destruction of the Earth. A reasonable person watching this movie might wonder why the trees in Central Park are in a murderous rage, yet aren't up in arms in Beijing, Mexico City, Cairo, or Chernobyl. Lest we think the trees just have it in for Americans, we get a closing shot of the happening starting to happen in Paris. Apparently body odor, public urination, cigarette smoke, and unscooped dog poop are more threatening to the survival of vegetation than massive amounts of smog, lead contamination, and radioactive fallout.
I kept wondering what Shyamalamalamyalan was thinking when he wrote this thing. I can accept that some people are so concerned about the environment that they think the Earth could become angry and strike back at the polluters. But according to Time magazine the ten most polluted cities in the world are in China, Russia, Ukraine, Zambia, India, and Peru. Not a single Western city made the list. So why didn't Shyamalamyamanan have the trees and shrubs and weeds rising up against the people in those places instead of the U.S. and France? Because none of them have large populations of guilt-laden well-off Westerners. Because it's a projection of Shyamamamamyalam's self-loathing and the self-loathing of the movie's intended audience. That's the only explanation I could think of, and it's supported by a subtle message we get late in the movie when the survivors are running through a brand-new housing development and we see a billboard announcing "You DESERVE it!" in big letters.
I wonder if the people involved in the making of this movie realized what a pointless, misguided, hate-filled downer it was. It would explain why Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, both of whom can act, are absolutely lifeless in their roles. But what I really want to know is why no one has pulled the plug on Shmyamamyamalan by now. The Sixth Sense was novel and intriguing, and Signs had its moments, but all of his other movies have been absolute turkeys. Who keeps giving him money to crank out this crap? Whoever it is, I wish they would find a better use for their money, like composting it.