I had kinda given up hope on Manoj Shyamalan’s movies getting the same kinda acclaim as Sixth Sense and Signs did. I liked The Village a lot more than most people did and have yet to watch Lady In The Water & Unbreakable. This movie is similar to the kind of movie that you would expect Shyamalan to make. Although I am surprised by the casting – Zooey Deschanel is not the kind of actress I would have expected in this role and neither was John Leguizamo in his small supporting role. I don’t like Mark Wahlberg but I guess he did ok in this role.
The Happening is about an unexplainable natural disaster that occurs on the East Coast of the US. It starts off in Central Park, New York when people suddenly start to commit suicide in the most accessible manner possible for no apparent reason. Stabbing themselves in the neck by a pen, walking off construction sites, policemen shooting themselves with their own guns etc.
Initially believed to be a bioterrorist attack using an airborne neurotoxin, the epidemic quickly spreads across the northeastern United States, slowly moving from large population centers to smaller and smaller areas. The disease is spread through the air and the onset is depicted by the wind picking up. Wahlberg plays Elliot, a high school teacher, who tries to escape the epidemic with his wife Alma (Deschanel), his friend Jullian (Luguizamo) and Jullian’s young daughter Jess. Jullian dies when he goes back to search for his wife and is infected along with others that he is traveling with. Elliot & Alma take Jess with them as they try to make their way to smaller and more open areas with less people as they get the idea that this infections occurs where there are more people. They are joined by a group of people who soon split into smaller groups as the wind picks up and they start to get infected.
Towards the end, Elliot is left with just Alma & Jess and they take refuge in an old isolated farm house occupied by a paranoid oddball woman, who is unaware of the disaster as she keeps to herself and has shunned technology and interaction with other humans. Soon, however she too is infected and she kills herself by banging her head onto the windows of her house. Elliot, Jess & Alma hide out in different parts of her house until they feel that death is inevitable and they come out to embrace in the field. The wind picks up and the trio wait for the onset of the epidemic…but nothing happens!
As predicted by scientists in the beginning the outbreak abates as quickly as it has started lasting only a couple of days. 3 months later things are normal for Alma & Elliot who have adopted Jess and are also expecting their first child. The Northeast is almost back to normal, save for the deaths and some destruction of property. However, a scientist is shown talking on tv that this was probably just the signs of a bigger wave of the epidemic, saying that humans have been a threat to the planet and nature is fighting back. We are then shown the same epidemic strike in France as the movie ends.
7 outta 10 for me. I like it but they could have done better!