The movie was better than the book.
Damn, I got a perverse pleasure from that. Was it good for you? 😉
Okay, let's be fair. The Mist was a novella, not a novel, and it was good. When I heard that it was being made into a movie, I was excited to see what they would do with it. I had no idea they'd do this with it, though! They took a good story and made it into a phenomenal movie.
"I love the slow build up. You're getting hints all the time. You see the army trucks passing. You hear the cop cars whiz past. It's there. Like in so many horror movies, you might be able to get ahead of it - if you weren't too wrapped up in your own life.
"And that's why humans are the victims. Because we all are so wrapped up in our own lives that you could open an alternate dimension on top of us and we'd never notice.
"For the record, I don't believe in alternative dimensions. Aliens, yes. Alternative dimensions? No."
The Mist is creepy, atmospheric, and disturbing. It's a movie designed to elicit strong emotions from you - and succeeds a hundred times over. I can't watch this one without feeling the effects of my blood pressure rising.
Well done, Darabont.
We all know Frank Darabont, of course, from The Walking Dead. (When The Walking Dead wasn't a steaming pile of... well, that's not important now.) If you had any doubts about whether there was any connection between the two, just look at the cast list.
"Darabont, like so many others, is one of those directors who likes sticking with the same actors.
"You also have to applaud the cinematography. It's starkly beautiful. The density of the mist was perfect, the way people can just disappear into it...
"And you know I love to talk about the music. The Mist's score is haunting. It's this weird kind of... not a dirge but a requiem. It's like church music. Like a choir. "
The movie is well-cast and well-acted. Thomas Jane's David Drayton is the frustrated and reluctant hero, paired against the bitter cynicism of Andre Braugher's Brent Norton and the freaking psychotic religious fervour of Marcia Gay Harden's Mrs. Carmody. Of all the characters, though, it was Ollie Weeks (Toby Jones) that stole the show.
Ollie is the one you don't expect. When he explains that he's handy with a gun, everyone is shocked because, well, look at him. He's not supposed to be the heroic type. Know who comes through, thought, when shit gets out of hand? You got it, Ollie. Plus, he's got the best snark in the whole movie.
I cannot stand Mrs. Carmody. I... I just can't. Pretty much every time that woman opens her mouth, "For fuck's sake!" comes out of mine. That nonsense is just beyond and absurd. It has no place in today's enlightened society yet....
"You have to give Marcia Gay Harden credit for that. It takes an amazing actor to make you hate them that much."
And, really, that's one of the biggest fears that The Mist plays on.
Darabont is a master of manipulating fear. The Mist is all about fears piling upon fears. It's too much fear. Eventually, that fear piles up so big you just can't bring yourself to clamber over it any more. That's the spiritual place David Drayton finds himself when he points the pistol at his son.
Jay loves the ending to The Mist. It frustrates me because I can't accept that I would ever make that decision. I know, I know. Easy to say, right? I don't have kids. Blah blah blah. Well, my whole freaking life has been a lesson in overcoming terror so, yeah, I say keep fucking fighting until those things rip you limb from limb, dammit.
(Also, if you live with Depression, that's your free therapy session for the day.)
"Shock. Absolute shock and awe. You don't get many films that end on a real downer and I love the fact that's what they did here."
There are a couple of other things happening that we should look at. The most important thing happening at the end of The Mist is the moment you see Melissa McBride's character go by on the back of a military truck with her kids. (As far as I know Melissa McBride's character doesn't have a name but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) That single moment changes the whole ending for me.
When things start to go wrong at the store, Melissa McBride's character asks someone - anyone - to walk her home to her children and no one steps up. Not a single freaking person. Jay and I have spent a lot of time talking about that and we both agree that we like to think we'd be the people to go with her but... who knows, right? Anyway...
You see Melissa McBride again at the end and you know she's okay. She made it. She faced the unknown by herself and she pulled through. Her kids made it too, which is more than you can say about David Drayton. As a feminist, I have to say yes. A woman went out there and did by herself what the whole rest of those cowards couldn't do together. Fuck. Yes. Woman-freaking-power. More than that, the power of a determined mother, which can move the freaking stars.
"I bet the whole reason she survived was because she was forced to go alone. Everyone else was gabbing the whole time and they all ended up dead. There's danger in numbers, too."
There's also a kind of old school, almost Victorian lesson hidden here. Well, maybe not that hidden. What's the lesson? If you don't help out a person in distress when they ask for your help, you got bad shit coming your way, that's what. Even Dickens would be proud. That, really, is what I take from the ending. It's not for the horror (and you're free to argue with me here), it's a punishment. It's deserved. That just makes the whole thing so much more delicious.
(Yeah, I know I'm a little twisted. What can I say...)
"The Mist is sci-fi, really, but with a lot of horror. It's gory and jumpy. It's a good, suspenseful sci-fi/horror. It's the unknown. You're not blind but you can't see, and that's terrifying. That fear is primal."
I said before that The Mist makes viewers confront several basic human fears. Let's run through a few of them: storms, the unknown, the other, the dark, bugs, spiders, and tentacles. (I'm still working on that one but I'm sure it has something to do with Lovecraft.) We've been talking about a lot of these all month so it shouldn't be any surprise to see them come up again.
"You're afraid of the dark, so it's set mostly at night. You're afraid of the unknown, so they make it thick fog. You're afraid of spiders, so there are spiders. It's everything we're afraid of."
There are also some moments where powerful symbolism is used in The Mist. One is the bloody hand print on the glass window at the store. The other is so subtle, you almost miss it. Trees have always been a symbol of life so when you start a movie with a tree falling, dead, causing destruction in its wake, you get the idea that some pretty not good things are going to be happening. And, of course, they do.
(Also, for those of you not paying attention, go back and watch that opening sequence again. There are a couple of good Easter eggs hidden in David's studio.)
Every movie is a product of the time it was made. Just listen to the old woman read out a laundry list of mistreatments teachers have to endure. That's a snapshot of American society. But, some movies become relevant all over again. When you watch The Mist now, can you do so without hearing Trump's voice coming from Mrs. Carmody's mouth? She uses the same hysteria to claim power that he has, proof that some things never really change.
"It really shows you the mob mentality, doesn't it? Basically, it's Donald Trump. That's it, just a crazy lady in a busted out store, trying to make herself more important than she is through fear...
"Speaking of bringing The Mist up-to-date, by the way, you didn't watch the TV show, did you? I liked the series. It was a bit strange and it veered away from the film but kept it very close at the same time. There were things in the mist and you had your factions. I understand why it got cancelled but it really should have gotten a second season."
Well, I think we're going to have to leave it there for today because there are pumpkins piling up around the place, waiting to be carved, but do come back tomorrow and see what we've picked for your 21st treat of the month.