The Mist

Tonight, I finally got a chance to see Stephen King’s “The Mist”, which also happened to be the 100th unique first-run movie that I’ve seen in the theater so far this year. I don’t think that there’s any possible way that I can adequately review the movie without any spoilers, so if you’re planning on seeing it for yourself and don’t want to know what happens, then don’t read beyond this paragraph. I’m going to give it an 8 out of 10, and it was much better than I expected it to be, so if you liked what you saw based on the trailers and were thinking about seeing it, then I would recommend that you go.

If you’re still reading, this, then I assume that you’re in one of the following categories:

  • You’re going to see the movie but want to know how it ends anyway.
  • You know you’re not going to see it but would like to know how it ends.
  • You’re still undecided and want help figuring out whether this movie is for you.

If you’re in the third category and are on the bubble about whether to see it, then let me repeat that it’s a very good movie, but I will warn you that it has a very rough ending. In my opinion, it was just about the perfect way to end the movie, but it is definitely not for the feint of heart. And this is your last chance to stop reading before I start giving away details.

The movie opens with a big storm. It’s bad enough that it blows a tree over into David Drayton’s house and smashes out his window. The damage is pretty widespread and knocks out the power pretty much all over town. When morning comes, the storm has ended but there is a heavy mist moving down the mountains and across the lake toward the town. David and his son Billy go into town to stop by the grocery store and then stop by the hardware store to pick up supplies to fix the window. Apparently everyone else in town had the same idea because when they get to the grocery store it’s packed, and the fact they they don’t have any power (save for an emergency generator that’s just enough to keep the freezers running), so the lines aren’t moving all that quickly. Then the mist reaches the store, and a man comes running in with blood on his face screaming about there being something in the mist. Of course, no one believes him at first, but it doesn’t that long before they find out otherwise. The first victim comes when a bag boy is preparing to step outside to check on the flue for the emergency generator but gets dragged away by a set of clawed tentacles as soon as they open the door at the loading dock. But since that happened in the loading dock, only a few people saw it and many others in the store were still skeptical. That came to an end when a second set of people walked out the front door and were snatched away in front of their eyes. At that point, it was clear that their best bet was to ride things out in the store. They had plenty of food and supplies, so hopefully they would be able to last until help arrived. They barricaded themselves into the store and tried to tape up the big plate glass windows at the front of the store before stacking up bags of dog food behind them. One woman had a gun in her purse, and others got knives and sharpened sticks, and they prepared several mops to use as torches if necessary.

As night began to fall, things started to get worse. Huge insect-like creatures (about two feet long and one foot wide, with nice long stingers) began to gather on the store’s front windows, but they didn’t really become a threat until another type of creature which can only be described as a pterodactyl arrived and started flying into one of the windows. After a couple of hits, the window started to break, and soon there was a hole big enough for a couple of the pterodactyls and several of the insects to come inside. The people fought them off to the best of their abilities, and were ultimately successful in repelling the attack, but not without casualties. One woman was stung by one of the insects and died pretty quickly thereafter, and one man showed a complete lack of skill at wielding one of the mop-torches and caught himself on fire along with part of the store. They were able to get the fire out fairly quickly so that no real damage was done to the store, but the man was badly burned. And to top it off, a religious nut (Mrs. Carmody, played by Marcia Gay Harden) who had been spouting off in true cult-leader fashion started to amass an ever-growing group of followers.

The man who had been burned was in very bad shape. He was in a lot of pain, and was in great danger of having his wounds become infected. Unfortunately, this supermarket wasn’t one that included a pharmacy, but there was one next door, and a few of them made the decision that they needed to try to get to it to try to save him. When dawn came, they set out cautiously and made it into the pharmacy without incident. However, getting back was a different matter altogether. Only as they were trying to leave did they notice the Alien-esque people suspended from the ceiling in what looked to be spider webs, and then they encountered the “spiders” that made them, only this time the webs that they shot out were like some kind of incredibly potent acid that would quickly burn through anything they landed on. When they finally were able to return to the supermarket, only about half of the party had survived, and even then it was all for naught as it was too late to save the burn victim.

By this time, Mrs. Carmody had won over most of the people in the store with her very selective interpretations of Bible passages, until there were only about ten people left who weren’t blindly following her. She had already begun to mention that they might need to sacrifice one of the heathens to appease God, and it all came to a head when she demanded that David’s son Billy be that sacrifice. Her followers began to comply and started trying to grab him away, and the only thing that stopped them was when one of the remaining clear-headed men took the gun and shot her dead. They then thought it was best to try to get away from there and see if they could drive far enough south to escape the mist and the creatures contained in it. They headed for David’s Land Rover, and the fact that there were ten of them and only room for eight wasn’t all that big a problem because their numbers were down to five by the time they made it to the vehicle. They drove off leaving the now leaderless cult members in shock and started to head south. They dove for quite some time past all kinds of carnage, but they reached the end of their gas tank before finding the edge of the mist. As the Land Rover sputtered to a stop, they could still hear the creatures and they began to accept their fate. They still had the gun with them and decided that it would be a far better way to go than at the mercy of the monsters, but alas there were five of them and only four bullets. After shooting his own son and the three other passengers, David stepped out of the vehicle and began screaming for the creatures to come take him away, only to be met with a much more horrifying sight: out of the mist came an army brigade replete with tanks and soldiers, and carrying truckloads of survivors to safety.

This was an appalling ending, but it was the right one for the movie, and it was the one that I was secretly hoping for once it became clear that they were considering death by gunshot. It would not have been nearly as good for them to have all been saved at the last minute, nor for David to have been killed by one of the creatures, or for them to have been able to drive to safety. My only slight disappointment with the ending was that none of the survivors being rescued by the army were from the supermarket. I think that small touch would have been just the right amount of additional salt into David’s wounds to complete one of the most tragic conclusions of any movie I have ever seen.

My only other minor complaint was that I thought that their explanation for the origin of the creatures was weak. Over the course of the movie, we learned that the nearby mountains housed a military base and that some army scientists had been exploring the possibility of alternate dimensions when the accidentally opened a door to one of those other dimensions and some of the creatures inhabiting it were able to cross over into our world. This was such a far-fetched explanation that I found it to be disappointing. Of course, given the subject of the movie any reason that they had provided would likely have been implausible, but I think that it would have been far better to keep the origin of the creatures a mystery than to offer up such a lame explanation.

Despite my mild disappointment over a couple of small aspects of the movie, I was nevertheless very pleased with the way that it turned out. I was glad to see the right ending even if it may be an unpopular one.