A few years ago (when we were still living in Montreal in an apartment), my husband and I went to see 'The Happening', a movie about a toxic airborne agent that makes the people in Northeastern United States commit suicide en masse. First the victims become disoriented, then they stop talking and moving, and finally they kill themselves by the quickest (and often most gruesome and painful) way.
(Warning: movie spoiler below. Stop here if you’re planning to watch this film.)
This sample of what can happen if the plants gang up on us is supposed to accomplish two things:
1) Scare the crap out of everyone by demonstrating how powerful the botanical world is.
2) Scare the crap out of everyone by demonstrating how defenseless people are against the power of the botanical world.
Basically, the message is that should the plant world unite (the botanist believes that communication and comradeship between different species is possible) and decide that there isn’t enough room for both humans and plants in this world simultaneously, we’re screwed. Plants rule!
So, the concept is pretty cool, something environmental activists might use to promote their cause. But the acting is pretty lame, which you expect since the script is, too, and it killed whatever potential there was in making the whole thing work. This was undeniably a b-movie, but not one of the better ones, and maybe not even worthy of the big screen. I personally think it was better suited as a half hour episode on The Twilight Zone or on Night Gallery, both of which I watched as a kid.
In any case, even though the movie wasn’t an award-winning type, I did appreciate the idea of plants shelling out some revenge. And if the plant world wanted to reduce our numbers, what hope do we have? What the heck could we do about it? Reason with them? Destroy the plants, which would end up destroying us, anyway? We’re doomed no matter how I look at it. And so, on our way back home from the movie, I thought about the houseplants inside my house and imagined them – and there were many of them at the time – deciding at one point that they weren’t too happy with me. And they could easily – because there were certainly enough of them – form an airborne-neurotoxin-releasing army and do away with me. I figured the ring leader would have to be one of the Dieffenbachias, which are very toxic plants to begin with.
But the more I thought about it, the more I believed it could be any one of them, because there were a lot of poisonous houseplants growing around our home that could have evolved rapidly and increased their potency. And I couldn’t really tell which one would stab me in the back if it came to that. In addition, some of the really toxic ones were also the most attractive and harmless-looking plants that no one would ever suspect of any wrongdoing.
I tell you, if plants decide to form a toxic coalition you can pretty much kiss this world good-bye. So, watch your back. And always sleep with one eye open. Not that it would help.
Trailer for the movie: