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The Happening star Zooey Deschanel thinks people didn’t get it

Zooey Deschanel, who starred in 2008's The Happening directed by M. Night Shyamalan, thinks that people didn't get its stylised nature

The Happening

Zooey Deschanel is best known for the sitcom New Girl and the twist on a romance movie that was 500 Days of Summer. One of her only forays into the horror movie genre was not exactly successful – 2008’s The Happening directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan is something of a ‘marmite’ director, who provokes strong reactions. Some of his films have certainly faired better with the critics than others, but even by his own variable standards, The Happening got a hammering – with only a 17% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Only Shyamalan’s Last Airbender movie and 2008’s After Earth faired worse.

Starring Mark Whalberg (who of course had worked with Shyamalan on Signs), John Leguizamo and Succession‘s Jeremy Strong and Alan Ruck – the horror movie was about a plague that causes people to commit suicide. Yet, it somehow still managed to make $163 million at the box office. Speaking to The Guardian recently, Deschanel says; “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 film-maker.”

Deschanel continues; “I didn’t know until I saw the film, but I think he was going for a stylised 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.”

Shyamalan gained critical acclaim once more with 2016’s Split starring James McAvoy, but in true Shyamalan style, followed it up with the much more divisive Glass. And 2021’s Old has exactly 50% on Rotten Tomatoes – which is the most Shyamalan possible rating. Long may his career of doing exactly whatever weird and idiosyncratic work that he wants to continue.

Find out whether Old made our list of the best 2021 horror movies.