STEPHEN KING — FRANK DARABONT — THE MIST — 2007
It is not a great masterpiece but it is a good film.
You will recognize all King’s main ideas. First, after a storm during the night, on the following day, all the damage is measured and checked and there is a lot. The main family, the father is an artist, have been severely impacted and they foresee some problem with the next door neighbor because one of his trees has destroyed their wooden pier on the lake. They discover then that from the other side of the lake a mist is rising. They nevertheless go to the town to get some groceries. The father and the son go and they take the next door neighbor who is black and whose car was destroyed by one of his trees. We will learn later on he is a New York Lawyer.
When they are in the store the mist arrives and something inside that mist attacks person and the store.
The film emphasizes a lot some reactions, particularly the reaction of a lady who is claiming she is the vessel of God. At first she is more or less disregarded, neglected even rejected, but after the first attacks or signs of the beast in the mist she will manage to make the majority of the customers in the store believe it is the punishing hand of God and she will manage to orient the anger of these people into a galvanized hatred of some individuals requiring some punishment, purification and then human sacrifice, and more particularly of a child, the only child in the store, the son of the artist. Stephen King has always been vocal against religious fundamentalists, but here Darabont seems to have increased the trait.
The second feature you will recognize is that this mist is caused by some extreme research of some armed forces close at hand in a base doing some research on the forms of life in parallel worlds and their attempt to open a window between our world and theirs. The storm was so violent that it disrupted the security and protection and the window became an open door and the mist brought along a whole set of some kinds of giant predators of insect or alien types. Flying insects, running and crawling insects, giant monstrosities in which many species are crossed from insect to octopus exhibiting the practice of the famous cinematographic Aliens that lay their eggs in living organisms that will die when the eggs hatch. That’s more or less added to Stephen King’s novella.
The third element is the systematic supremacist approach of many, most people in this crowd against the only black man, the only artist, all those who have witnessed the first attack in the back and pushed it away with one victim, a bag boy, who was dragged away. These supremacists just pretend this is irrational and absurd, a lie and a bad taste prank. It is not white supremacy that is dealt with here but the general state of mind of many people in a fearful and frightening situation: they look for the minority people around them and accuse them of being responsible for the problem. The worst supremacist in this crowd is, of course, the female guru and preacher announcing the apocalypse and reading the Book of Revelation. Anyone who is not on her side is against God and all those who are against God are responsible for the anger of God and have to be sacrificed, purified, etc.
This supremacist ideology is used by some to capture influence and power but it can only develop on the basis of some frustration and fear, mostly as a collective mood. This is marvelously developed and demonstrated in this film. Here again, it goes probably slightly farther than what I remember from the original novella.
But the main change is the end. In Stephen King’s novella, everything went back to normal in the morning, more or less, but here certainly not. The presence of military forces to recapture the territory by burning it all and rescuing the few survivors is in line with some Kingian elements but it is pushed farther than even what King does in The Stand. I won’t tell more about it: you have to discover it yourself.
The film is very good as for most of the special effects, even if some props seem to be a little bit cheap. The creatures are perfect and have so many designs and structures that they are in many ways effective, or would be with any younger audience. All animals that are despised and rejected by humans out of fear or disgust are used here, small and big. What do I say, big, giant of course is the proper word, out-worldly? Some are marvelously creative.
Entertaining and yet also dense with meaning. This film will entertain a moonless night of yours when a tempest has cut off power and the next door river or lake have submerged the ground floor of your house. Take refuge in the attic on the third level and use your satellite dish to get the film from the cloud and a small generator to get electricity. Be prepared in one word. Just build a four-yard-high translucid wall of some indestructible fiber all around your territory to keep undesired aliens out. And just have some kind of dome on top that can be raised when necessary. If you have one or two cubic meters of liquid oxygen, you will be able to survive more than a week.
In other words, VIVA LA MUERTE! But for people outside your tribe only.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU