Apocalypse movies are no unfamiliar genre in Hollywood, The Happening (2008), in M Night Shayamalan’s direction, however, brings out something new and genuinely ominous for the human race. The Happening stimulates a scenario where nature is taking revenge on the human race through a suicidal epidemic. The movie is not a mere horror movie, nor is it a typical apocalypse movie. Rather, it delivers a message and delivers it strong. Nahid Riyasad reviews the movie.
‘We've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happening’
Human being is considered the unquestionable master of this planet, at least over all the other species. We have erected on our feet nearly 200,000 years ago, thus marking the beginning of our journey. From then, we reached to a soaring one billion in population within 1800 and by the 2100, at a difference of a mere 300 years, we are going to breach the 11 billion mark. Now, through the ages, we have been responsible for the extinction of numerous animals and plants and after the industrial revolution in the 18th century, nature has only been ravaged by our species. We have deforested the planet life never before, we have polluted the planet to its core and we have fractured countless ecosystems. Do we think, all these actions will go unaccounted by the nature? The Happening is a movie that deals with a fictional aftermath of human exploitation of the earth.
The movie starts with an indication to a recent ominous incident-vanishing honey bee across the USA. A high-school science class discussion in Philadelphia sets the dark tone of the whole film right at the slot. Also, protagonist of the movie Elliot Moore, a high-school science teacher played by Mark Wahlberg is introduced here. The incident commences during the morning rush at New York’s Central Park. Suddenly, the entire population in the park got disoriented and within moments, they feel the uncontrollable urge to commit suicide.
The government initially announces the incident as a terrorist chemical attack, however, with the propensity of its spread, the people soon understand that this is nothing man made. Within hours, the entire east-coast till the mid-west has been affected, leaving a trail of human bodies, who have taken their own lives, willingly.
People start to flee their homes, however, escaping from the rage of nature in not easy. People assume that this might be an air-born virus thus understanding the marginal chance of their survival would be seeking shelters inside. All the roads are blocked by litters of human bodies, train connection is cut as well as the entire communication system. Now, will Elliot be able to save his wife and his colleague’s daughter? If so, how do they manage to dodge an air-born virus? How long does the humanity have on the face of such a devastating virus? Is this incident exclusive to east coast or others countries are affected as well? Does the USA government have hand in this disaster? Does the nuclear- power heavy area paying its toll? In order to know the answers, you need to see this film.
M Night Shayamalan is an Indian born young director who has already showed marks of talent in Hollywood. His subject matters are usually supernatural catastrophic events often dealing with the fate of humanity. Shayamalan has done a tremendous job directing The Happening. The movie perfectly creates images where chilling sensation through the spine is guaranteed, dark thoughts about the future of humanity is bound to come. I have to mention a couple of scenes, which masterfully insert fear and ominous vive inside the psyche of audience.
The first one is the opening scene at Central Park, where after a sudden scream, all the people are frozen and starts walking backward, with sheer will to kill themselves. Another one is at the construction site, where, workers get into a frenzy of jumping off of a under construction building, ultimately presenting themselves with a gruesome death. Another chilling scene would be when a group of people were escaping the gore, they enter in a residential area, adorned with huge trees on both side of the roads. Moments later, they discovered that hundreds of people are hanging from the trees, they have killed themselves.
James Newton Howard composes the music which perfectly blends with movie plot and gives that little nit extra chill to the audience. The box office success of the movie is also solid, with a budget of around $60 million, it has earned over $160 millions.
The movie is not a mere horror movie, nor is it a typical apocalypse movie. Rather, it delivers a message and delivers it strong. We have been deforesting the planet for centuries and within a few more, there shall be no trees to cut down. We have been ravaging the planet’s natural resources in name of development and soon, there will be time when we will have no more coals and oils to extract.
Nature has given us life and resources to sustain that life, all the other animals have conform to this basic rule and living at harmony with nature. However, human beings, with a self-imposed supremacy, have plundered through the world in last few centuries ignoring all the rules of nature. We love to think that we will be spared by the nature, however, nature has never been forgetful, not is it sympathetic. Human beings have dug its own grave and it’s mere matter of time, we will fall right there, to the oblivion.
Nahid Riyasad is a member of the New Age Youth team.
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