Film review: The Mist

Warning! There are spoilers …. I won’t actually mention what happens in the end, but aside from that, everything is fair game.

I am not the biggest fan of Stephen King ….. I don’t dislike his work, and unlike many literati, I think there is a lot to his rich descriptions, and his intertwining of the darkness of early New England into his works in away much darker than say The Crucible. Aside from that, I have always thought his endings were very weak, with Salems Lot and Carrie being notable exceptions. Even though the ending to The Mist was altered from King’s original ending, it is by far the best ending to any of King’s works on film.

There are definitely parallels to other works of horror. The night after a storm, a strange mist descends on a Maine town (see John Carpenter’s The Fog. Several townspeople are in the grocery store (replenishing supplies after their food went bad when power went out the night before). They soon learn that running out into the mist is a bad idea ….. they can hear screams, one man who manages to make it into the store was a witness to an attack by a large creature unknown. One person is taken out of the loading dock by tentacles to a large, unseen creature. Some choose to believe, others think it is a delusion. One woman, a fire and brimstone believer in Revelation, starts to consolidate her power as she thinks judgement day has arrived.

Without going into too much detail, there are a few scenes which reminded me of James Cameron’s Aliens. I will leave that up to the reader to decide, but suffice to say, this has nothing to do with what any creatures look like.

In the end, a small group decide that they can no longer stay: they nearly burned the store down during an attack, and those looking to make a sacrifice to appease their concept of God are growing in number. The group ventures out into the unending mist. This is where the real horror begins. To not go into too much detail: sometimes the man in the white hat (the good, truly righteous hero) does not end up getting his just rewards in the end. Sometimes, evil wins, and the good pay a very dear price. In short: life is really sometimes not fair.

One of the stories I thought of while watching this; a seminal work of modern fiction, is Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monsters_Are_Due_on_Maple_Street”) As the people in the grocery store are forced to endure, they soon learn that there are monsters outside, but that the monsters inside are nearly as bad, if not worse. This is a common theme in King’s work, that those who bend Christian thought to that of hatred, prejudice, or violence, are themselves monsters of a type ….. even if they are not necessarily incorrect (many of these types in King’s works turn out to be correct in their assessment of the danger, though seriously misguided in their actions). Understand, this film does not have a happy ending.

It’s a pretty good film, especially as they go for King’s horror-morality tales. I strongly advise against anyone who is a parent of young children to see this film. To say the least, children should definitely not see this film. There is a particular scene that will not sit well with parents, possibly for a long time. Horror fans who have not seen this should otherwise appreciate it …… definitely among the better film adaptations of a King work.

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