Written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening began production in August 2007 and was released on July 13, 2008.
The film begins in the northeast part of the US, with people committing suicide. At first, they begin to repeat words, become disoriented, and then kill themselves.
Officials believe these mass suicides are bioterrorist attacks, as several forms of media report this speculation to the public. However, as more of these suicides occur, this theory becomes less and less likely.
Starring Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore, a science teacher in Philadelphia and Zooey Deschanel as his wife, Alma Moore, the two also experience the effects of US citizens committing suicide, as they are in close proximity to the initial occurrences.
The pair begins travelling away from the northeast along with Moore’s friend, Julian, played by John Leguizamo and his young daughter, Jess, played by Ashlyn Sanchez.
Throughout their journey, the group endures more loss around them, as people continue killing themselves, most often in parks and around nature.
The film includes lots of suspense, complete with classic thriller music, close-ups, gasps, creaky doors, and desperate running. Performances by Wahlberg and Deschannel are emotional, yet simple, resulting in a great connection between them and the audience.
Manohla Dargis, one of the chief film critics for The New York Times raves about Wahlberg’s performance, “the film turns out to be a divertingly goofy thriller with an animistic bent, moments of shivery, and twitchy suspense.”
So what’s this whole film about? Why are these people killing themselves in parks? The film’s philosophy towards science advocates that science is a difficult field to grasp, as things always change. The main premise behind the film focuses on the relationship between humans and nature, a relationship that has been in conflict since the beginning of time.
There have been mixed reviews concerning The Happening, as some critics stated that it lacked “cinematic intrigue,” while others like Roger Ebert praised it. As Ebert states, “it is no doubt too thoughtful for the summer action season, but I appreciate the quietly realistic way Shyamalan finds to tell a story about the possible death of man”.
Currently, The Happening has raked in a total of $114.3 million.
Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore
Zooey Deschanel as Alma Moore
John Leguizamo as Julian
Ashlyn Sanchez as Jess
Betty Buckley as Mrs. Jones
Spencer Breslin as Josh
Jeremy Strong as Private Auster