Spoiler Alert!!!! (Although, I'm not sure that "The Happening" is all that spoilable.)
M. Night Shyamalan, an Indian immigrant raised in suburban Philadelphia, is a Crunchy Con auteur who makes mild, relatively wholesome high-concept genre flicks. His 1999 ghost story, "The Sixth Sense," was an instant landmark, while his 2002 alien invasion movie "Signs" was another popular New Age parable about the need for faith and family. His lesser hit in 2004, "The Village," offered an empathetic fable about middle class flight from urban crime. ...
As the mass suicides spread throughout the Northeast, a Philadelphia biology teacher (Mark Wahlberg of "The Departed"), his wife (Zooey Deschanel), and math teacher best friend (John Leguizamo) flee randomly through the ominously verdant hay fields of rural Pennsylvania. After much brow-furrowing, Wahlberg discerns the horrible truth. We polluting humans are enduring the righteous vengeance of … plants.
... The aesthetics of "The Happening" are so unappealing that the entire movie, originally entitled "The Green Effect," might be a covert satire on greenhouse effect alarmism over global warming. The environmentalists in the film appear demented, and there's little sign of pollution. Pennsylvania looks plenty green.
But can a movie be a satire if it's not funny?
More plausibly, "The Happening" could be an allergy allegory. Every year, in the greener parts of America, plants do afflict millions, making them feel like life isn't worth living. Shyamalan burbled, "One of the things that I guess was in the back of my mind was that one in six emergency room cases for the United States is asthma-related. I'm going, "What? … Everybody's like wheezing and there's a line outside the nurse's office for an inhaler. What's that about? We're becoming allergic to what?"
Perhaps that's why Shyamalan has his normally likeable stars act as if their heads are stuffed up and they're just not in the mood to deal with the end of the world. With the state their sinuses are in, the apocalypse leaves them irked and ineffectual. Maybe they could cope if Armageddon were postponed until the pollen count is lower.