The Happening director M. Night Shyamalan sat down with the press to talk about the science behind his latest flick — and the science is a weird mixture of Jesus and algae at the bottom of the sea. Night was inspired by reading Albert Einstein's biography and discovering Einstein had rejected religion at first, until eventually he saw "the hand of God" in the gaps between scientific explanations. In The Happening, Shyamalan tries to recreate this surrender to faith by saying, sometimes you just can't explain it when shit happens. Click through to discover the deeper religious message of The Happening — and to find out where that algae comes into it. (With spoilers.)
In The Happening, people start killing themselves for no reason, and according to early reports it turns out that the plants are secreting a neurotoxin that makes people crazily suicidal. Shyamalan said he got the idea from reading about undersea algae that can secrete a toxin to protect itself.
But asked what specific religious faith inspired The Happening, Shyamalan went super vague. He said he drew on "the Native American culture and relationship with nature, the relationship with the sky, the earth, the rock the bear." He also claimed that cast he Mark Wahlberg because of his strong faith in Jesus. But Wahlberg's religious faith ended up causing a ton of reshoots. Whenever Shyamalan would ask Wahlberg what he was thinking about, and Wahlberg replied, "Jesus," Shyamalan would make him reshoot the scene in question. (Until he was no longer thinking about Jesus?)
Added Shyamalan, "There are limits to rational thought." Which is actually the only sentence I feel clearly explained his faith message. But maybe I'm just an overly rational person waiting for God to be explained — or rather not explained — to me because, as Shyamalan says,
It's not cynical, but clinical minds are the ones that it needs to be proved to the most. The ability to believe is right there. It actually means more to them, it's such an important moment. We all want one day someone to go, "Here's the answer. There is something bigger going on."