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Plants (The Happening)

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You know plants have the ability to target specific threats. Tobacco plants when attacked by heliothis caterpillars will send out a chemical attracting wasps to kill just those caterpillars. We don't know how plants obtain these abilities, they just evolve very rapidly.
~ A nursery owner speaking to Elliot Moore

The Plants, also known as Nature or the Trees, are the main "antagonists" in M. Night Shyamalan's heavily criticized 2009 thriller film "The Happening".


In the movie, Earth's plant life starts to develop a deadly neurotoxin that is deadly to humans. According to a school principal seen earlier in the film, the toxin makes people undergo three symptoms: confused speech, loss of coordination, and finally, suicide. In other words, the person affected by the neurotoxin will begin to either stop what he/she was doing before and stand motionless, or repeat a line he/she was saying earlier until he/she stops talking. The affected individual will then commit suicide using anything around him/her, or take advantage of the situation he/she is in to kill himself/herself, like ramming a car into a tree or standing in front of a lawnmower. The toxin will only be produced in areas where humans are more concentrated, like cities or parks.

Role in the movie

The first suicide in the movie happens at Central Park, New York, where thousands of people suddenly commit suicide through random means. The waves of mass suicides begin to spread through the Northeast of the United States, eventually reaching smaller areas, like small towns and villages.

Elliot Moore, a high school science teacher in Philadelphia, hears from his school faculty about the events, but the faculty apparently confused the mass suicide for a terrorist threat. He decides to move to Harrisburg with his wife Alma, his friend Julian and Julian's 8-year-old daughter Jess. However, the train they take to reach the city malfunctions and the passengers get off to find themselves in Filbert, Pennsylvania. Julian decides to hitch a ride to Princeton and leaves his daughter with the Moores, but when he gets there, he sees that the town was already affected. To make matters worst, the car's driver is affected and rams the car into a tree, causing all of the passengers to fly out of it, dead. Julian survives, but once he gets up, he walks to the back of the car, where he cuts himself with the car's glass.

The rest of the movie shows that the toxin affected huge portions of territory, most of it made of crowded areas. A nursery owner Elliot meets tells him that the toxin is actually the product of plants, which usually develop such toxins to deal with threats, or in this case, mankind itself. After the theory is proven by another attack, Elliot, Alma and Jess escape to a farmhouse where an old paranoid woman lives in, where they spend the night at.

In the morning, the group wakes up to see the old woman standing still in her garden, affected by the toxin, which indicates that the toxin is now targeting single individuals. Elliot tries to seal the house to prevent any more wind from coming in, but the old lady begins to break the windows with her own head, opening new air currents. Elliot rushes to the basement and discovers that Alma and Jesse are also safe, hidden in a nearby spring house. He talks to them through an old sound tunnel and tells them that if he must die, he will do so by her side. He then leaves the house and meets them at the garden, but strangely enough, nothing happens.

Three months later, a newscast announces that mankind has apparently become a threat to the planet, which triggered the plants' defense system and created the neurotoxin. The newscast also mentions that the attacks on southeastern USA were just the beginning. The final scenes show that the announcement is true, as the mass suicide waves are now happening in France.


  • Common animals, such as dogs, lions, apparently are not affected by the toxin mainly because of plants somehow hates humans, as we see the owner of a dog shoot herself in the temple with a handgun, but the dog still survives.
  • The plants in film are treated as main "Antagonists" for they seemly should had somehow vengence against humans (rather unexplainly), along with their toxins cant never work unrealistically to forced humans killed themselves if all may mutated/recently evolved in same time.

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