That’s what the folks over at IO9 are saying about it.
Note, the following discussion pretty much spoils the whole movie so if you think you might want to see it then don’t read any further. I’ll put it below the fold just in case.
M. Night Shyamalan’s critically-panned flick The Happening is Hollywood’s first blockbuster to promote the anti-evolutionary theory of intelligent design. Maybe you thought Ben Stein’s ill-fated documentary Expelled was the only movie to argue in favor of the neo-Christian idea that an “intelligent designer” created the universe. Think again. With its references to “unexplained acts of nature” and a science teacher main character who calls evolution “just a theory,” The Happening is basically a giant propaganda machine for intelligent design. Maybe science journalists are jizzing all over its allegedly realistic plants-attack-humans plot, but we talked to Shyamalan and we know the truth.
Avowed Christian Shyamalan told us that The Happening is really about religious faith, and explained that he chose Mark Wahlberg to play science teacher Elliot Moore because of the actor’s intense belief in Jesus. Maybe he also chose vacant-eyed Zooey Deschanel to play his wife Alma because she looks like a little girl who needs a big strong monotheist in her life? No comment on that one from Shyamalan.
We get tipped off to the fact that this allegedly science fictional movie is really an ID tent revival in the opening scenes where Elliot teaches his science students about evolution. He explains to them that honeybees are disappearing all over the country, and asks what some possible explanations might be. Students who say things like “climate change” and “evolution” are dismissed as being “partly right.” But then when a generally quiet student finally says, “It’s an act of nature that we can’t understand,” Elliot lights up and says that’s the best answer. That phrase “act of nature,” which sounds suspiciously like “act of God,” crops up in the movie again and again to explain why plants have suddenly decided to kill humans.
As our little band of characters flee into the Pennsylvania countryside, they gradually begin to realize that the waves of suicides might be caused by plants. We see news commentators talking about how the “attacks” probably aren’t coming from terrorists. And Elliot uses the “scientific method” to deduce that plants can “spontaneously evolve” in response to a threat. Maybe plants think humans are threats, and “spontaneously evolved” in an “act of nature” to manufacture a toxin that switches off humans’ self-preservation instincts? Why, we’d all just instantly commit suicide! You know, because God — erm, I mean nature — is mad at us! For doing things like not polluting and not having babies with our husbands.
Trying to look wise but merely looking blank and addled, Elliot ponders and looks into the middle distance, intoning, “Science will come up with a reason to put in the books but int eh end it’s just a theory. We fail to acknowledge forces at work beyond our understanding.” Well put, Mr. Science Teacher. All those atheists with that whole “evolutionary theory” thing don’t realize it’s just a theory! Probably everything in nature is just beyond our understanding. Let’s pray.
I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be the case when I saw the trailer and heard the “we’re dealing with forces beyond our understanding” line from Marky Mark. It’s getting a 20% freshness rating at RottenTomatoes.com and after hearing the plot details it’s not surprising as to why.
I really liked Sixth Sense, it was the second DVD I ever purchased, but it seems like with each succeeding movie release Shyamalan has drifted away from telling a good yarn to finding ways to preach to us in a somewhat subtle fashion. Signs was particularly bad about that what with the main character being a Clergyman-turned-atheist who rediscovers his faith for no apparent reason after living through the alien invasion.
Oh well, there’s still plenty of other good movies to check out this summer.