Zooey Deschanel Opens Up on The Happening’s Abysmal Reviews

Released in 2008, The Happening serves as a blemish on the film career of M. Night Shyamalan as one of his worst-reviewed films. The film sits with a rotten 17% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and its audience score isn’t much better at 24%. While the film was a financial success at the box office, it’s a movie that most involved would seemingly rather forget based on the vitriol it had gotten from critics and viewers alike at the time.

Zooey Deschanel knows all too well about The Happening’s negative reception as one of the co-stars of the movie alongside Mark Wahlberg. In a new interview with The Guardian, Deschanel opened up on her thoughts about The Happening and how the movie was widely panned. The actress explains how she had placed her trust in Shyamalan and suggested that maybe most viewers didn’t understand the “stylized horror” vibe he was going for. In any case, she had a lot of fun making the movie.


“That film was pretty universally not loved! The director, M. Night Shyamalan — Night — had a strong vision and we were all trying to do what he wanted. 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. 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 Explores Unexplained Suicides

20th Century

In The Happening, the world is left perplexed when people inexplicably start dying by suicide. It’s not known if this is a bio-terrorist attack or if these events are happening for another reason, but the film suggests that plant life has gone on the offensive by developing a defense mechanism by way of an airborne toxin that affects humans’ brains. Along with Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, the film starred John Leguizamo, Betty Buckley, and Ashlyn Sanchez.

After the release of the film, Wahlberg would go on to criticize it by calling The Happening a “bad movie” at a press conference. Shyamalan would later address Wahlberg’s opinion in a Vulture interview. The filmmaker said that it didn’t bother him that Wahlberg bashed the film as it was the only time something like that happened to him. Shyamalan also guessed that The Happening didn’t click with viewers because of its tone, as he was going for a “B-movie” vibe.

“Since that would be the only case of that happening — no,” Shyamalan said of Wahlberg’s comments. “But really, no. It’s totally his call. However he wants to interpret it.”

“I think it’s a consistent kind of farce humor,” Shyamalan added about the movie. “You know, like The Blob. The key to The Blob is that it just never takes itself that seriously. I think I was inconsistent. That’s why they couldn’t see it. You need to be in a good place. Unbreakable didn’t necessarily work out exactly the way I wanted it to. But now I would go back and tell my younger self, ‘That column is not your concern. Keep going.’ Failure is very cleansing, and success is very confusing.”