The Happening: Elliot and Alma are autistic. (812 words)
The Happening is a good movie that is very misunderstood. The problem is that if you don’t like it and I explain why I believe it’s good and change your mind a little bit, it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it the next time you see it. It’s a bit like watching Prometheus for the first time and hoping for Alien 5. First, you’ll find the movie terrible and then if someone explains to you what’s good about it, it still will not become Alien 5.
The Happening isn’t a scary movie. It’s not a horror movie with tension and scary stuff. It’s a strange movie that tells a strange story that flirts with horror while still being weirdly fun, entertaining and meaningful. If you laughed, it’s fine.
First thing, why is Zoey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg’s acting so incredibly bad ? There’s a reason and their acting isn’t bad at all: the characters they play are both mentally disordered. Elliot Moore suffers from Asperger syndrome and I don’t know about Alma, maybe a different form of autism.
She wants her phone to stop ringing and extends a hand towards it as if it was going to make a difference.
She makes a very serious comment on the threat they're under "it makes you kill yourself, just when you think there coudn't be any more evil that could be invented," but this without realising the threat concerns her too.
Once you’ve understood this, their acting is just spot on. They pay attention to ridiculous details, their emotional response to the tragic events around them is completely incoherent, to the point where it becomes ridiculous and funny, they ask strange questions and utter weird commentaries. It is quite good, they suffer from autism, that’s all.
The virus infects people with perfectly normal brains, that’s why a great number of the survivors that Alma and Elliot will meet are actually a bit weird. From the guy who asks questions about hot dogs randomly to the old lady who slaps kids for no reason.
It's the apocalypse and Elliot and Alma are trying to get a ride as if they were tourists looking for a hotel.
Second thing, the carnage is not caused by plants. It’s caused by Elliott’s incapacity to express his sexual attraction for Alma. People suffering from asperger experiences a great deal of difficulties when it comes to be physically intimate with someone else (I saw this in Mr. Wolff). And so, Elliott’s gigantic sexual frustration alters plants around him. He is the one who is spreading the virus. (Or he is directly infecting people himself and the plants aren't involved in the process).
Because Elliot and Alma do not sleep together, Alma is slowly moving away. She ate desert with another man ! That’s the tone of the movie, it’s funny and ridiculous and serious at the same time because we’re not looking at normal people. The secret desert truly means that Elliott and Alma's couple is under a threat.
And so Elliot starts perceiving men as rivals, that’s why he bullies the beautiful kid during his lesson. And that’s why construction workers start falling like flies, while a woman is so eager to have sex that she penetrates her neck with a needle.
When running away from the danger, Julian asks a young panicking woman to multiply 2 by 2 thirty times (or something like that), Why ? Because he knows that the danger arises from a man who suffers from Asperger. He is trying to distract Elliot from them with numbers. And a girl commits suicide repeating "calculus, calculus, calculus."
The virus is an extension of Elliot (and Alma), like a superpower. The Happening takes place in the same world as Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Glass and Split.
Very quickly, the government becomes aware of the fact that Elliot and Alma are the danger. That’s why the movie starts in a city and ends in the middle of nowhere in the country side. The people who are dealing with the disaster found a way to keep Alma and Elliot away from the rest of the world; offering them a baby to quench their desire for an offspring, stopping their train,
pretending that everyone is dead everywhere, putting items and people on their path in order to guide them etc… and it will work. One step at a time, Elliot and Alma are going to experience the psychological growth necessary for them to acknowledge their desire for each other (The old lady tackles the question very straightforwardly) and as soon as they do, everything stops. Three months later, she’s pregnant and everyone is safe.
Until another asperger starts a new disaster in France.
Really, The Happening is a great B movie. It’s no superb rollercoaster ride with incredible twists, it’s just a fun story told properly and from the point of two special minds. Every scene is meaningful, every event hints at what’s truly happening around Elliot and Alma and how they are evolving together. There’s a lot of ambiguous details that ask you to ponder stuff. For example, everybody is committing suicide because of the disease… what if someone actually truly committed suicide independently for a specific reason that you have to discover ? Also, two kids get brutally murdered… or do they provoke this response because they’re actually committing suicide because of the virus ? We’ve seen a guy provoking lions in order to get eaten. And this military guy, how come he behaves like a random dude ? Why the slap on the hand ? Anyway. It’s a good movie full of nice convoluted details, funny moments and good acting.