MOVIE: The Mist (2007)

Okay, so, I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of The Mist this weekend. Annnnnnnnd, the verdict?

*shrug* Meh.

It’s not TERRIBLE. But it’s not really that good either. At least, that’s what I was thinking until the ending, anyway. After the ending, however, I mostly found myself thinking about how great it would be if it were based on a true story so that I could track down writer/director Frank Darabout and FEED HIM TO A GIANT COCKROACH.

Let’s discuss.

For those that don’t know, the movie (and the Stephen King novella it’s based on) is about a group of small-town Maine residents who have just weathered a big storm. The morning after, local artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is out surveying the damage to his yard and boathouse when he and his wife notice a strange mist rolling in off the lake. They don’t pay it much mind, though, and after getting a list of essentials from his wife, David gathers up his son and his cantankerous neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) and heads to the supermarket for supplies.

Lots of townsfolk have gathered at the store (having lived on the East Coast myself, I can attest to the fact they’re all there buying bread and milk, by the way). Many of the townsfolk are alumni of other Stephen King movies, which is how we know something bad is about to happen. There’s Thomas Jane, of course, from Dreamcatcher. Andre Braugher, who was in the Salem’s Lot remake. William Sadler from Shawshank Redemption. Jeffrey DeMunn from, like, EVERY Stephen King movie I’ve seen in the last five years. And finally, Frances Sternhagen, who was the cop’s wife in Misery.

And only fifteen minutes into the movie, I’ve already figured out the moral of the story: If you ever walk into a supermarket that has four or more Stephen King movie alum roaming around in it, TURN AROUND AND WALK BACK OUT.

Because sure enough, though everybody’s in pretty good spirits at first, the cheer grinds to a halt when Jeffrey DeMunn runs into the store covered in blood and yelling something about the mist grabbing his buddy.

At first, people aren’t sure what to believe — what do you mean the MIST grabbed your buddy? But the guy IS covered in blood, so, led in part by David, everyone quickly decides they should stay put until they have more information. The group is murmuring in agreement when, in one of the only truly poignant moments in the film, a young mother announces with distress that she CAN’T stay put — she told her kids she’d be right back and she can’t just. . . NOT. Desperately, she begins to pleads for one of the men to go with her, but the only response she gets is a bunch of averted eyes and shameful glances. So, she pulls herself together, opens the front door, and sallies forth into the mist. It gently wafts around her, and soon she disappears from sight.

And that was it — there was no BOO! moment, nothing grabbed her, there were no screams or blood. And that’s when I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe this movie isn’t going to suck after all!”

Alas, despite the fact this film was written and directed by Frank Darabout, who also wrote and directed the wonderful Stephen King movie The Shawshank Redemption, this flick shares NONE of that film’s subtlety and grace. It’s not long before we have lots of really stupid-looking bugs flying into the windows (BOO!), some LAME looking tentacles grabbing a stock boy, and a truly ridiculous explanation for all this having to do with the military accidentally opening up a portal to another dimension.

Really, though, the story isn’t about the bugs or the danger that lurks outside the store. Instead, it’s about the dangers of fear coupled with the irrationality of religious nutjobs. Inside the store, the townsfolk fairly quickly begin to splinter into two groups — the sane group, led by David and Truman Capote (okay, okay, Ollie Weeks, played by Toby Jones, who PLAYED Truman Capote), and the raving lunatics, led by Right-Wing Religious Whacko Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden, overacting the bejesus out of her part, I must say).

Mrs. Carmody is convinced that this is the end of the world and that those who don’t side with her will be going straight to hell. And it’s not long before fear and panic (or, as Obama might theorize, bitterness about the government) drive a bunch of others to cling to her crazy Jesus talk for comfort as well.

Long story short, things start to get a bit worrisome in the store when the sane people begin to realize they’re quickly being outnumbered by the panicked whackos. David, in particular, is concerned that they are going to attempt to kill his son as a sacrifice to God to keep themselves safe. So, despite the fact that death-by-giant-hymenoptera lies just outside the door, they decide to make a run for David’s truck and see if they can get the heck outta dodge.

So far, I didn’t HATE this movie — I thought it was pretty silly but I was being successfully entertained. I had some quibbles with the acting, but figured it really had more to do with the writing than the actual performers (Harden and Braugher’s parts were just bad roles — there wouldn’t have been a way to play those characters effectively, I don’t think).

But suddenly the movie goes from silly to ARE YOU KIDDING ME? with inordinate speed. The group of the last few sane people make a mad dash for the front door of the store and. . .

SPOILERS COMING UP NEXT — DO NOT SCROLL DOWN AND KEEP READING UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE OR DON’T CARE ABOUT HAVING THE ENDING RUINED FOR YOU! ALSO, I AM GOING TO SWEAR IN THE SECTION BELOW, SO IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY THE WORD “PUSSIES,” YOU MAY WANT TO STOP READING NOW!

Okay, so, everybody runs outside and makes a break for David’s truck, right? They all pile in, except for Truman Capote, who got eaten on the way (DANG! He was the only character I actually liked in this movie!). Their brilliant plan? To drive until they run out of gas. Yep, that’s it! That’s the whoooooole plan!

Of course, they DO run out of gas, and fairly quickly too. Sitting in the car, they begin hear the sounds of big man-eating bugs not far from them in the mist. They look at each other, think for a few moments, and then immediately decide. . .

TO SHOOT THEMSELVES?!

WHAT?!

And, oh no! There are five of them and only four bullets left! So David promptly takes the gun and shoots everyone, INCLUDING HIS LITTLE BOY! A mere TWO MINUTES after they’ve run out of gas!! A mere TWO DAYS after the bugs crept in on little cat feet with the fog!

Seriously — that made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER!

First of all, it occurs to no one to turn on the radio and see if there are any human voices broadcasting from anywhere? Would that not have been the first thing you tried? It would’ve been the first thing I tried!

Second of all, if Plan B is SUICIDE, why not at least first send someone outside to try to score some more gas? Can’t be because they were too afraid of DYING, after all. Why didn’t they pull into a gas station when the needle got towards the E and give it a try? Why didn’t they stop next to that bus they passed and attempt to siphon some fuel out of ITS tank? Why didn’t they sit in the car until they actually started to get ATTACKED before killing themselves? You’re telling me that rather risk being eaten by a bug while trying to get some gasoline for his truck, a father would rather SHOOT HIS OWN SON? David’s whole reason for wanting to escape the store was to PROTECT his son. But at the first sign of trouble, he pulls out a gun and pops him in the head instead?

And did I mention that this is all happening a mere TWO DAYS after the mist came rolling in? What a bunch of pussies! You don’t last 48 HOURS without throwing in the towel? Frankly, the gene pool’s a better place without your DNA in it, you morons. Bring back Truman Capote — at least that guy had some balls!

The BEST part, though (by which I mean the WORST part, of course), is that, as David is outside daring the insects to devour him (EAT ME!!), what comes rolling out of the mist but. . . THE MILITARY! To the freakin’ rescue!

And it was at this point that both me AND Thomas Jane both began to yell, in unison, “Noooooooooooooooooo!” Him because he’s just killed his future girlfriend and his son and dammit, if they’d just waited two more minutes, they would’ve been saved (again, you pussies!). And me because I cannot BELIEVE Frank Darabout could be that big of a jackass.

Of all the LOSERY, LAME-ASS ways to end this movie, I am serious (this isn’t how the book ends, by the way). Not only was it just ineffectively emotionally manipulative (obviously the goal was to make our hearts ache with the horror the father is going through, but instead it just MADE ME REALLY ANGRY), but it was totally CHEESY too. Thomas Jane’s acting in that moment was utterly laughable, and that he was two minutes from rescue? Pathetic and infuriating.

In any case, up until that point, I will agree with everybody else that this movie isn’t utterly unwatchable. But the last ten minutes completely ruined the entire thing for me. Which is why, Frank Darabout, to you I have only one thing to say: HANG UP YOUR SPURS. This town ain’t big enough for the both of us ANY MORE.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden, Nathan Gamble, William Sadler, Alexa Davalos

Tags: ,

10 Responses to “MOVIE: The Mist (2007)”

  1. R.W. Ridley Says:

    Yep – you pretty much captured it. I felt the same way after watching the movie. Silly. What a waste of a good story.

  2. Liz Says:

    I still say I didn’t think it was so bad. I will admit that there were some – shall we say, rather strange – decisions made during the course of the movie. But some of the dumb stuff came right out of the book, so I don’t really blame the movie. Coming from what I consider the weakest King book I’ve read, I thought some of it was handled well. Andre Braugher’s character WAS a know-it-all fool; he couldn’t help it. Marcia Gay Harden’s character WAS a dangerous loony-tunes; she couldn’t help it either.

    And I thought that, although the “monsters” were a bit dumb looking, I’ve definitely seen stupider ones, and I was impressed by the “monstrous” behavior of some of the people in the store. As for the ending, at the time, I thought it was rather interesting, as it was the first time I could remember seeing a King movie that ended tragically. It wasn’t ’till later that I began to see all the holes in the situation (like not trying to find more gas, or not listening to the radio).

    All in all, I thought it was a better King movie than some I’ve seen. (I don’t include “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Stand by Me,” or “The Green Mile,” all of which I thought were excellent, because to me they weren’t your standard “Stephen King horror.”) So sue me – I didn’t think this movie was all that bad … Hmmm … well, that may not be the most glowing recommendation for a movie!

  3. megwood Says:

    Having a tragic ending is all well and good, but not when it’s completely illogical that things would’ve ended that way. It was so obvious to me that Darabout wanted to stun the audience with a horrific ending — but he was too lazy to take five extra minutes to actually have that horrific ending MAKE SENSE.

    It was a cheap and stupid ending, in my opinion, especially considering the fact we KNOW Darabout is smarter than that. Compared to Shawshank, this film just felt totally half-assed to me. Maybe if it had been written/directed by a rookie I would’ve been more able to overlook its numerous problems. But knowing someone was at the helm who actually DOES have half a brain and IS capable of making a truly intelligent and moving film, it was obvious fast that he just didn’t give a rat’s ass about his audience this time around. And to me, that’s just not okay!!

    In other words, I stick to my original opinion. Which is that Frank Darabout needs to be fed to a giant cockroach. STAT. Eat it, Frank!

  4. Trip Says:

    If I remember, King left the ending to this story rather ambiguous, and the movie’s attempt to close it out seemed way out of place and off message to the rest of the story.

    If there were similar moral dilemmas presented throughout the film, it might have made more sense, but that ending was like a punch in the face to the viewer. The story went from an entertaining case study in how ordinary people react to crazy fear into an ironic Greek tragedy.

    Meh – like everyone here said…it was just OK. Glad I didn’t drop full theater price on it, though

  5. Trip Says:

    If I remember, King left the ending to this story rather ambiguous, and the movie’s attempt to close it out seemed way out of place and off message to the rest of the story.

    If there were similar moral dilemmas presented throughout the film, it might have made more sense, but that ending was like a punch in the face to the viewer. The story went from an entertaining case study in how ordinary people react to crazy fear into an ironic Greek tragedy.

    Meh – like everyone here said…it was just OK. Glad I didn’t drop full theater price on it, though

  6. megwood Says:

    Yes, the ending of the book is more ambiguous — in that you don’t know if the gang in the car will make it or not. But it also ends with a little shred of hope too, which just seemed way more authentic to me than the ending of the film. The ending of the book is described here if anybody is interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mist

  7. Jane Doe Says:

    This movie sucked ass! Steven King should be ashamed of himself for even thinking about writing this book in the first place. But, knowing him and what he represents I am not at all suprised and in my opinion he should be put out of his misery just like old yeller. For the directors the only thing good about the movie is the camera shots and the bugs themselves. Being former military their is no such thing as aliens or their technology and people who believe in that sort of thing are just as stupid as the people who where apart of this horrible movie. Then, on top of it the ending where the father who shot his own son and three other people in the end was the worst ending of a movie I had ever seen. King should be committed to a prision for the insane.

  8. megwood Says:

    I totally agree with almost everything you say, Jane. Except that, to be honest, I think it’s the people who don’t believe there’s any such thing as aliens that are the dumb ones. The universe is infinite in size and getting bigger all the time — I can’t fathom what makes people believe THIS tiny spot called Earth is the only spot with life on it. That makes no scientific sense whatsoever.

    The movie totally did suck ass, though. King is pretty bad, no denying it!! 🙂

  9. TC Says:

    Women….

    Ok here goes from the perspective of a MAN

    Tom Jane did what I would have done after running out of gas. After seeing that 90 story six legged monster walk in front of the truck, it was good indication that humans were done.

    Go for gas? How? The monsters could see and smell you in the mist. You can do neither. Plus do you know how long it takes to sipon gas from a gas tank in the best of conditions? It’s hard enough when you have to watch out for cops but add giant spiders to the equation and you make it a no win situation.

    So I would have done the same thing. It beats the hell out of waiting for something to come along and open the Toyota Landcruiser up like a can opener.

    The tank scene was kind of sad though. An even better OWN3D moment would have been as the survivors in trucks are passing by, we see Andre Braugher and his group in the back of one of the trucks

  10. Carlos Isais Says:

    I just watched this movie again just now on TV, and in reference to the 7th (?) paragraph of the article and the previous comment, if you noticed in the tank scene, the lady who left the store to be with her kids went by with her kids in one of the survivors’ vehicles. So, in a way it is kind of a final “own3d, middle finger to the audience” moment, and that’s why there was no boo moment or screaming or blood in the first scene mentioned. Just to clear things up.

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