It’s “Happening” all over again.
Almost 15 years since the premiere of M. Night Shyamalan’s oft-spoofed flop “The Happening,” lead star Zooey Deschanel is back defending her role in the 2008 box office bomb. In an interview with The Guardian using fan-requested questions, Deschanel joked that “The Happening” was “pretty universally not loved” despite Shyamalan’s best attempts.
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“The director, M. Night Shyamalan – Night – had a strong vision and we were all trying to do what he wanted,” Deschanel explained. “I trusted him, because he’s a great filmmaker. I didn’t know until I saw the film, but I think he was going for a stylized horror, like ‘The Birds,’ and maybe people didn’t get that.”
She added, “I had a blast working with Night and Mark Wahlberg, but while I’ve done serious drama, I’m not sure I fit with thrillers. I find most joy in doing comedy.”
“The Happening” focused on a high school science teacher (Wahlberg) who sets out to save his family from an invisible environmental threat forcing people to kill themselves. Mostly, the movie shows people running from wind…basically like “The Bird Box” but sans any visible visions of horror. “The Happening” infamously has an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and even Wahlberg dished that would-be co-star Amy Adams “dodged a bullet” by turning down the “bad movie.”
“I don’t want to tell you what movie…alright, ‘The Happening.’ Fuck it,” Wahlberg said in 2013. “It is what it is. Fucking trees, man. The plants. Fuck it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook.”
Shyamalan told Vulture in 2019 that looking back, he knows “The Happening” was “inconsistent” in its tone.
“That’s why they couldn’t see it,” the “Split” director said of audiences connecting with the feature. (Albeit, no one could see the horror movie threat to begin with.)
Shyamalan’s own “Sixth Sense” for what connects with critics has faultered, leading the director to admit that he cried at bad reviews for the 2019 “Unbreakable” follow-up, “Glass.”
“Honestly, I was feeling like, ‘Will they never let me be different without throwing me on the garbage pile?’” Shyamalan said when speaking to New York University students. “The feeling of worthlessness rushed me, and to be honest, it doesn’t ever really leave. But anyway, the film went on, right? It became number one in every country in the world, and it represents my beliefs.”
He added, “I’ve had more success than anybody should be allowed to have. I mean, everything I’ve ever written has been offered to be made into a movie, and my nine films that are original ideas have averaged $270 million each. I just think I can’t complain about anything. But I get tired. I pay for my movies now. After this 10-year period of working at studios on junk movies, I was not happy.”
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