I saw a number of great films last year, but only one has
remained at the top of list. It was one
of the most polarizing not only of last year, but of the past decade. It’s a genre film that makes us question the
aesthetics of what has come before and after it, while forcing us to watch
humanity dissolve on screen before our very eyes. It was created by a duo whose very names are
synonymous with great storytelling; writer/director Frank Darabont and author
Stephen King. Of course, I’m talking
about The Mist.
Technically, it’s not exactly a long lost film, but I do
firmly believe it to be one that needs to be revisited from time to time. That is because, and mark my words, it will
be considered a very important horror film.
It’s a nasty little tale that is about the deterioration of what makes
us human as much as it is about monsters popping out of the dark and it must be
viewed at least once a year due to the fact that it is the type of horror film
that genre fans have been clamoring for since the 1960s and 70’s (arguably the
highpoint of effective horror filmmaking).
Thankfully, I’ve been given a little less than a year to let
the film soak in. It’s not an easy one
to get through, nor does it necessarily require repeat viewings. But Darabont infuses the film with much more
emotion than you’d expect, to the point that it completely catches you off
guard with its relentless display of the lengths we will go through in order to
survive seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
Nothing is more disheartening than watching a film populated
with unlikeable characters. The Mist
is one of those films that have them in abundance. What’s worse is that the few good ones are
made to suffer more than others. I’m
sure this is one of the many reasons the film was met with little to no
enthusiasm last year; it focuses on horrible people doing horrible things to
survive. What’s worse is that, by the
time the credits role, the film points its finger at the audience and questions
them as to what they’d do if they were thrown into a similar situation.
The character of Mrs. Carmody, while highly exaggerated, is
plucked straight from the newspapers. In
times of despair, people turn to a logical explanation. Any explanation, for that matter. But what happens when the most logical
explanation is brought forth by a person who is the most dangerous and in
demand of absolute power? Darabont
develops Carmody beautifully and while she isn’t necessarily a
three-dimensional character (she is quite mean with no redeeming traits for the
majority of the picture), she is the catalyst for having the characters and the
audience question their faith and how it can be perceived in times of
Another strong aspect Darabont addresses is that of social
breakdown and how it can turn even the meek into cruel harbingers of
death. Remember the scene in which the
soldier is sacrificed for knowing what went on up in the mountains (which
eventually led to the arrival of the mist)?
It’s nightmare inducing because it can actually happen. In times of uncertainty, selfishness becomes
top priority. And the reason that scene
pissed people off was because it was a tad too realistic. As disturbing as it was, it was necessary to
the story, as it showed the absolute depravity that these people are willing to
experience in order to save their own skin.
After having some time to think about it, the much talked
about ending is not as controversial as it first appeared to be. Sadly, everyone seems to focus on it when
criticizing the film, which I think is a horrible counter-argument when discussing
the quality of the film. I firmly believe
that Darabont did it for all the right reasons, the least of which being the
desire to shock us. He could have gone a
totally different (and easily accessible) route if he wanted to shock us, but
he’s better than that. I mean, even
Stephen King loved the ending. Whether
he was telling the truth or not is beside the point. King has enough pull in the industry at this
point to tell off a filmmaker if they bastardize his creation; especially one
as beloved as The Mist.
It’s a cruel ending, one that understandably made Dimension
Film very uncomfortable. Truth be told,
I’m surprised they allowed Darabont to keep it intact, considering they have a
habit of butchering tales into indecipherable abominations. But they understood something that the
general movie going audience didn’t.
They realized that David Drayton, essentially, isn’t a true hero. That’s where people get confused. Yes, he said he’d protect his son, and he did
throughout most of the film. But in the
end, he made an ill-timed decision; one that proved he was just as flawed as
Mrs. Carmody in many, more subtle, ways.
I recommend that you watch The Mist either again or for
the first time. Ignore any comments you
may have read or heard about it, and come to your own conclusion. It may very well piss you off, but in the
end, just be assured that it was made with love, dedication and the intention
of treating the audience with the utmost respect. In that regard, it succeeds without question. But see it soon before it truly joins the annals of long lost cinema.