What’s the difference between fog and mist? I am truly perplexed on this matter, someone inform me, stat! Oh yeah, and this is the latest entry in Splatter Time Fun Fest 2010, that may be a bit of useful information!
Screenplay By: Frank Darabont
Directed By: Frank Darabont
First things first, The Mist is a great B horror film. It is a creature feature that would fit right in during the creature feature era of horror film making. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the setting, the characters, the creatures, the gore, the deaths, and so on. There wasn’t a second of The Mist where I wasn’t having a blast, or being drawn in by the excellent creature effects or ominous atmosphere of it all. On a horror movie level The Mist is great, there’s no doubt about that, but what truly propels it to another level is what can be tilled from the story if you dig a little deeper.
Something you should know about me, I’m not very political or religious. I think the political system in America is irreparably broken and can never be fixed, there’s nothing you or I can do to make a difference until the party system is abolished. I don’t believe in god, but I have no problem with the people who do, faith is a wonderful thing to behold and I would never take that away from anyone. No, this hasn’t turned into Bill’s political and ecclesiastical corner, but I think that little bit of insight into my brain is important for what I am about to write, because I don’t have a horse in any of the issues that The Mist tackles.
Yes, I said The Mist tackles some issues, because this isn’t just a B horror creature feature. Oh no, The Mist is a full on allegory for the world around us. Somehow the original writings of Stephen King have been transformed by the pen and direction of Frank Darabont into a damning tale of humanity. Every inch of The Mist is occupied with a double meaning. The grocery store can be seen as a representation of the closed off America, or if you want to get way super meta (I will continue to use that word, it’s my blog, if you don’t like it then I don’t give a fuck) it could be seen as a representation of the womb and the formation of many children about to enter the dangerous world. Yeah, I like to think a lot, sue me.
Anyways, back to what could be what in The Mist, the creatures could be seen as foreign forces, or as our collective fears about what the real world is like. The character of Mrs. Carmody is an obvious one, she is of course the representation of religion taken to the extreme. It’s important to note however, that people do stand against her, that her zealot nature is opposed, and that the idea of faith or god is never actually slandered in any way. The military and Andre Braugher’s lawyer are also very obvious, they represent the establishment, the establishment that will not listen and does what they want because they can. I have no doubt that many people ascribe liberal interpretations to The Mist, or conservative ones. Just as I am sure that people interpret The Mist in a pro-religion light or an anti-religion shadow. I’m more of a down the middle man, so I tend to fall in line with the idea that The Mist is damning of all sides. On and on and on I could go with the many different representations found in The Mist, heck, right now I have at least three different interpretations swirling through my dome.
Early on I settled on the interpretation of the store as a closed off America. What solidified this for me was the ending. Both sides of all major conflicts in America tend to be reactionary, they act first without exploring every option. The Mist is a series of reactionary events, culminating in the most severe of reactionary events. It’s also the moment when the film most damns humanity, recognizing the fact that we are an inherently stupid species who will kill one another off no matter our affiliation. Just open the door my man, look around you and see what will happen, don’t give up because that is the easiest reaction of all and if we continue to function as a quick reaction society we are doomed to failure. Beyond all that, it’s a powerful ending, one that hit me right in the gut.
All of that came from a B horror creature feature, and that is why Frank Darabont is one of my all-time favorite directors. I’ve only seen three of his films- The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and now, The Mist– but in all of those films he manages to make great entertainment while also packing in all sorts of secondary meat for the mind to ponder. In the case of The Mist this is buoyed by a top notch cast, Darabont’s wonderful direction, a great atmosphere and excellent creature effects. I know that The Mist is a very divisive film, people literally either love it or hate it, but I fall into the love camp. I honestly don’t see anything in The Mist that people could hate, whether you are looking at it as an American parable or a good old fashioned horror film. I choose to look at The Mist both ways, but no matter how I look at The Mist it is clear to see that it is a splendidly crafted picture.
I actually feel that Frank Darabont is terribly overrated (as is The Shawshank Redemption). Everything is presented to us on a plate, there is nothing subtle about it nor is there any hiding his Manichean view of the world and a fondness to over-sentimentalize things. The Mist, for me, was actually a weaker film than say Shawshank or Green Mile. Lots of great ideas from Stephen King – faith, consumerism etc., and a brilliant location to set a horror story but it was all soap-opera in the film. I also hated the ending.
In my opinion, Darabont’s best film is Buried Alive (his best screenplay being the one he wrote for Nightmare on Elm Street 3). And they were years ago. Don’t think he’s got anything letf in the tank.
I always took away the more liberal reading of the film, which for me makes the movie very one-sided, but only encapsulates the debates that have captivated the United States in recent years, which makes it pertinent nonetheless. Horror, both recently and through the decades, has often been adept at channeling fears, ethical and political dilemmas into creatures of the night, or mist. I think that’s why ‘The Mist’ deserves the credit you’ve awarded it in your above review, Bill.
Best ending ever.
wow! nice analysis. i just thought it was about monsters in a haze. tom jane. legend.
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Dan – You and I shall simply disagree when it comes to Darabont. I love Shawshank, Green Mile, Mist, and his run on The Walking Dead.
Edgar – Horror never gets its due for being as political, or prescient to the times, as it regularly can be.
Mark – It’s a doozey.
Ross – Thanks man, appreciate the feedback. 🙂
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