I used to write reviews of all the movies I watched. Now, that honor is reserved for very specific movies, either movies I really, really like, movies on Mormonism, or movies that are so terrible someone has to say something. The Happening, the latest of M. Night Shyamalan’s film disasters, falls into the last category – terrible, terrible, terrible. I’m going to keep this short and to the point: Mr. Shyamalan knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about science. The Happening is the perfect illustration of using a tiny bit of pseudoscientific bullcrap to scare people. It belongs in the same category as Biblical Creationism, especially since it uses the same tactics as creationists to make its arguments.
The basic gist of the story: plants revolt, releasing a deadly toxin that makes humans kill themselves. The wind some how triggers the plants to release the toxin, but only when there are large groups of people around, except at the end, when it kills small groups of people or even just individuals. Why the change? Um, plot point?
Why does this happen? According to the story, because humans aren’t taking care of the planet. So, the plants revolt and kill humans. And, according to Shyamalan, this is all based on sound evidence, because, well, “studies have been done.” That phrase is used a good half dozen times or so to justify things like: (1) plants can sense the presence of humans and respond to human voices, (2) plants can willfully evolve new toxins during their lifetime, and (3) plants can be triggered to release those newly evolved toxins by atmospheric factors. Unfortunately for Mr. Shyamalan, what he is proposing has already been debunked by actual science. His “evolution” is actually Lamarckian evolution, the poster boy of the Soviet Union’s failed biology program, which actually proposed that living things evolve during their lifetime based on environmental pressures and pass those traits on. This is not how evolution works. The story in the movie could not and will not ever happen.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for suspending disbelief for a story for entertainment value. I really enjoy superhero movies and sci-fi. But using pseudoscientific babble to try to scare people and claiming it is based on real science is immoral. The movie goes so far as to use the classic creationist ploy, “It’s just a theory,” as a plot device. FYI, in science, a theory is not “just a theory” (i.e., someone’s pet idea); a theory is backed by empirical evidence and has withstood repeated testing. The last non-scientific issue that really got both Debi and me as we watched this drivel was having “scientists” claim “this is a ‘natural’ event” and “science can’t explain it.” Mr. Shyamalan can take a bow for contributing to the scientific illiteracy of the US, which now ranks below average compared to other OECD countries on science reasoning.
Alas, the damn movie made money, which means this retard gets to keep on making movies. The only positive thing I can say about this movie is that I didn’t pay for it (except for with my time). Combine this trash with Lady in the Water and I think I have officially written off M. Night Shyamalan as a filmmaker of any merit.