The Mist

March 23rd, 2008 by Potato

I never read Stephen King’s The Mist, so I managed to be pretty well surprised by the movie. For starters, I went into it thinking that “the Mist” was that mist that turned people inside-out like the Simpsons mocked in one of their Treehouse of Terror episodes. Not to spoil anything, but it’s not. Aside from seeing it pop up in the list of movies at IMDB, I hadn’t really heard about this movie — no advertising for it managed to penetrate my consciousness, if there was any.

Spoiler warning!

It’s a pretty decent B-list horror movie. There are monstrous space aliens to boldly fight (or run shrieking from) and a slow die-off of the characters trapped in their less-than-safe haven. There are gross-out sequences (such as the soldier who gets put up in a web and finds alien spiderlings spewing forth out of his body), blood, and action… but it’s not a typical monster movie. The movie is really a psychological thriller about the desperation these shut-in survivors face as they ponder the prospect of never being rescued, of never returning to normalcy, and of course, being eaten or otherwise horribly killed.

Some of the characters are a little cardboard cutout-ish. The next-door neighbour started off with a very workable personality and some hinted-at old issues with the main character. Then, he started to come together with the main character in their common struggle to recover from the storm damage and the story seemed to be leading us towards a nice arc where they become reluctant friends… until the Mist comes and brings with it the tentacled space aliens. The neighbour refuses to believe that there are space aliens out in the Mist, even refusing to play along with the games of the people who want him to come back to the loading dock to see the severed purple tentacle. Even after some more people see it and are convinced, he refuses to believe, thinking the town people are playing a joke on him. To be fair, it was a little suspicious of the main character to approach him alone first, thinking that since he was a well-spoken out-of-town lawyer, that he’d be able to best break the news to the rest of the people shut into the store.

Spoiler warning! Seriously, I’m about to talk about the end now!

It was interesting to watch as the crazy biblical lady brought so many under her spell and started to preach about the end of days and the need for human sacrifice. On some days I have a fair bit of faith in humanity; on others I can be pretty cynical. I didn’t really doubt that she could form her own little cult there in the grocery store after a couple of days of being isolated within an alien haze and scared absolutely shitless while people were dying. However, I was astonished at the number of people willing to follow her down the path of human sacrifice (the soldier? yeah, ok, there was bit of a reason underlying that… but the movie started to go beyond believability when so many people were reaching to sacrifice a child), and that no one tried to counter her craziness with something from the bible about god no longer demanding human sacrifices or something like that.

The most power and most fucked-up part came right at the end. After escaping the madness of the grocery store crowd and driving until they ran out of gas and never finding an end to the mist or alien devastation, the group of mostly-rational people lead by the main character fell into despair and decided to end it all quickly by the gun, rather than wait around to be eaten by some tentacled nasty (or worse). However, the gun doesn’t have enough bullets for everyone, so the main character volunteers to pull the trigger on all the others, and then walk out to his own less pleasant end. He shoots them all, including his own son, and leaves the safety of the SUV… only to shortly thereafter find that the low rumbling taken for the humming approach of one of the larger aliens was actually a tank plowing through — humanity had triumphed, rescue was here, and he was saved. The weight of it all hit him, and he fell to his knees wailing.

That was a very powerful moment, however I think it was more from the sympathy of the situation than from the performance seen on screen. It was a decent portrayal or suicidal despair, I suppose, but I don’t think Thomas Jane will be winning any awards for it. Compare that with George Clooney in Michael Clayton. I actually didn’t like the movie Michael Clayton very much at all, and if I were to rewatch one or the other, I’d probably go see the Mist again. However, there’s a minute right at the end where George Clooney hops in a cab and you see this look on his face. This holy fuck look, this I can’t believe I just did that and I’m totally crashing off my adrenaline rush right now expression. That look right at the end almost makes watching the rest of the movie worthwhile (almost). I didn’t get that same resonance at the end from the Mist, although the situation itself was so powerful.

One minor detail that threw the ending off for me was when the tank came rolling through, it came from the same direction as the land rover full of survivors. That SUV wasn’t moving very fast through the Mist (with visibility at maybe a couple of feet), but the tank would have had to be moving even slower if it was stopping occasionally to engage the aliens or add to its large convoy of rescued civilians. So the survivors really should have passed the military on their journey before they ran out of gas. Of course, it’s possible that they ran right by the rescuers in the Mist without ever knowing it, like two ships passing in the night; it’s also possible that they waited in the SUV after running out of gas for more than the few minutes it looks like it took for them to decide to end it. The Mist, which engulfed the town at supernatural speeds, also cleared very quickly as the convoy moved through, so it’s also possible that the Mist was retreating along with the moving SUV, allowing the military to move quickly with clear visibility to catch up to them… but I think it would have been better for my suspension of disbelief if the tanks simply rolled out of the Mist from another direction.

2 Responses to “The Mist”

  1. Ben Says:

    I didn’t read most of the post due to the spoiler warnings, but I am kind of curious to see the movie. Did the bulk of your post say it was good or not?

  2. Potato Says:

    It’s a pretty decent B-list horror movie. I think it’s worth a watch.