"Plastic. I'm talking to a plastic plant. I'm still doing it."
A 2008 film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.Something big is going down: people all over the East Coast start to kill themselves for no reason, and there's no explanation as to the mass suicides. High school teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) tries to escape Philadelphia with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), fellow teacher Julian (John Leguizamo), and Julian's daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez).The movie takes a Hitchcockian approach to the horror — the suicides merely happen without explanation — until somebodydoesexplain it: plants, in response to human overpopulation, are emitting a neurotoxin that makes a person's survival instinct kick into reverse.Compare Alive: The Final Evolution.
Chekhov's Gun: Really, really obvious one — the two rooms where you can hear whatever the person in the other room is saying.
Coincidental Broadcast: Whenever the characters need any sort of exposition they can find a broadcast, regardless of wherever they are, whether it be the abandoned truck, or the radio in the middle of the field (that no one bothered to take with them), or the montage of other people all over the U.S. watching the TV News.
The End... Or Is It?: The end of the film, where it appears that the whole thing starts over again in France.
Evolutionary Levels: The plants suddenly evolve the ability to emit neurotoxin. All species of plants. Simultaneously. On the other hand, the speed and diversity of the toxin may be an acceptable literary deceit — plants may not be personally sending mankind a warning, they could just be the mechanism Nature is using to force an out-of-control population back into balance.
Perhaps de-evolutionary — "I read this article about the coast of Australia. It said they have found large quantities of primordial bacteria. It hadnít been around for billions of years. It just appeared in the water. Itís toxic to humans, fishermen who come into contact with it are dying."
Expospeak: The principal explains the symptoms at the beginning to the other teachers. Later, the nursery owner explains plants' ability to release chemicals. Mrs. Jones explains the speaker in the springhouse.
Gorn: Apparently someone in Fox's marketing department learned that people were just laughing at the answer to the "mystery", so commercials for the DVD release focused solely on the deaths and its status as Shyamalan's first R-rated film, ignoring the mystery aspect.
Goshdang It To Heck: The private's use of "Cheese and crackers!" as an exclamation, and the construction worker's use of the word "thing" for "penis".
Humans Are Bastards: This is thought to be the reason for the plants' sudden "evolution" and revolt against humanity. Additionally, in one scene, a guy shoots two obnoxious teenagers because he doesn't want them coming into his house.
No Peripheral Vision: When Elliot walks up to the truck with the open door, only after looking through it does he notice the house in the distance. He then points it out to everyone else who was looking in that direction already, and they notice it.
Only Sane Man: Two women are seen holed up in an apartment, wearing gas masks. This is one of the smartest things you can do if you believe that a chemical/biological weapon has been used and there is minimal option for evacuating safely.
Construction Worker: ... and little guy says "You have a girlfriend named Wendy, too? Well, I saw your thing and it says 'WY'." And the big guy says "Noooo man. Mine says 'Welcome to Jamaica, have a nice day.'"note The missing part of the joke is "Two guys are standing at adjacent urinals, and they both notice the other has the letters 'WY' tattooed on his penis."
Poor Communication Kills: Elliot, Jess and Alma get all the way through dinner with Mrs. Jones before deigning to mention the event.
Pretty Little Headshots: When the police officer and others shoot themselves. Odd, given the gory scenes in other parts.
Product Placement: When Elliot tells them to stop the car because of the bodies on the road, the next shot is the wheel stopping with the word "Jeep" on the hubcap perfectly lined up horizontally and readable.
The Power of Love: The plants just happen to stop emitting the neurotoxin minutes before Elliot and Alma decide to go outside and hug. In the original script, the subtext became text and it was literally The Power of Love.
Red Shirt: Quite a few characters have shirts are redder than roses, redder than poinsettias.
Ripped from the Headlines: The Disappearing Bees, Terrorist Attacks, Global Warming, etc. The film is just a grab bag of topical terrors.
Even before the movie was made, the most credible theories regarding Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees hinged around naturally-occurring immunodeficiency and fungal pathogens (i.e., not human-caused).
Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: The mass genocide of humans by plants is described by Elliot Moore as something that just "happened", rather than an unprecedented biological phenomenon.
Science doesn't seem to be in great shape in this movie's universe, in the opening scenes, Elliot asks his students for theories on disappearing bees. One student suggests "It's just a phenomenon of nature and we'll never understand it"; in the real world, a science teacher would consider that a desperate cop-out from an ignorant student, but Elliot considers it a perfectly valid answer. One gets the impression M. Night doesn't really understand what science is or how it works, given that the whole point of science is explaining natural phenomena.
Television Geography: The real Filbert, PA is near Uniontown, PA, about forty miles southeast of Pittsburgh — this puts it very far from the eastern part of the state that the guy in the restaurant points out on the TV screen, and well past their trainís stated destination of Harrisburg. The actual town has no rail service, either.