Sunday, November 28, 2010

BMC MOVIE OF THE WEEK: THE MIST

The Mist
  • The Mist
  • The Mist
Frequent Stephen King collaborator Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) teamed with the celebrated horror author once again for this tale of terror concerning a small town engulfed by a malevolent mist, based on a story originally published in King's 1985 horror anthology Skeleton Crew. When a thick fog descends upon a rural community and claims the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught outside, a small band of survivors seeks refuge in a local grocery store. Now trapped in a darkened cloud of pure horror, the frightened denizens of the town are forced to fend off an advancing horde of murderous monsters. Punisher star Thomas Jane heads up an ensemble cast that includes Andre Braugher, Laurie Holden, William Sadler, and Marcia Gay Harden. – AllMovie Guide
64% liked it

R, 2 hr. 5 min.

Director: Frank Darabont 

November 28, 2010: First Sunday of Advent (Year A)

The next time you watch The Shawshank Redemption, ignore the unnecessary final shot and just close your eyes as Morgan Freeman gives his final monologue on the bus. "I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” Just fade to black right there. You don’t need to see if Red and Andy get to give each other a big hug on the beach because it’s the hope they express which is the heart of Shawshank and the true note on which the film should end. I bring this up because in order to really appreciate The Mist, you have to see it as a bookend to Darabont’s earlier film. While Shawshank is a meditation on the necessity of hope, The Mist is an exploration of what happens when people abandon it.

Now, despite that heady introduction, The Mist is still a bona fide B-movie at heart, complete with bug-eyed monsters hell bent on brunching on a beleaguered humanity. And while those humans are all paper thin stereotypes, especially Marcia Gay Harden’s poorly written religious fanatic, it doesn’t matter too much once the tentacles start tearing through the doors. You want people armed with flaming mops fighting mammoth mutant mosquitos? Well, this is your movie.

Unfortunately, the ending sours a lot of people on The Mist. And I’ll admit, on the surface, it’s cruel. Heck, being told you’ve lost your job, your house burnt down,  and your dog has cancer all on the same day is less cruel than the ending of this movie. But if you watch The Mist in the context of it being a kind of anti-Shawshank Redemption, then the ending is exactly what it should be, a perfect allegory on the consequences of giving up hope and succumbing to despair.

Here at the start of Advent, it’s good to remember that hope is not just a feel good motivational word. As one of the theological virtues, the practice of hope actually does something to us. According to the Catechism, hope actually adapts man's faculties for participation in the divine nature. “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.” And if we can get a movie like The Mist, which illustrates the repercussions of turning our backs on hope while simultaneously offering up scenes of shoppers assaulted by hideous flesh chomping spiders… all the better I say.

15 comments:

romishgraffiti said...

Added to my Netflix queue and I'll watch it with SR in mind even though I'm one of about only ten people on the planet that thinks it sucks.

EegahInc said...

Go into it with low expectations and it should be fine. Think of it as kind of a SYFY original with a bigger CGI budget. Just be prepared to roll your eyes at the "Christian" character.

Anonymous said...

Can't resist quoting the ending of the Te Deum prayer: Let your mercy be upon us, Lord, who have hoped in you. In you, Lord, I have hoped: let me not be confounded for eternity.

What an imagine of damnation, confusion for eternity! And after the snazzy list of Apostles, Prophets, and Martyrs, we squeak in with them as the people who hope.

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Yep. I can't speak for anybody else, but just the fact someone like me has even been given the hope of making into Heaven is pretty humbling.

(former) Rocket Scientist said...

Haven't seen this one, mainly because I prefer happy ending movies (St. Paul: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Bet you didn't know St. Paul wrote about cheesy movies). However you make a good point and I will find a copy of this to see soon (GOT to get NETFLIX). By the way, if others have not heard of it, I have been getting most of my DVDs through the SwapAdvd site. You list your unwanted DVDs, and get credits when they are requested and mailed which you use to request ones you actually want. It's free. So essentially you get a movie for the cost of the postage, about $2. Sweet.

MissJean said...

Sounds like The Mist was just a pre-cursor to Storm of the Century, one of the BIGGEST wastes of my viewing times. Sure, struggle to survive and pull together as a community - and then let the community talk you into trading your child to Satan for a "get out of jail free" pass. King's New Englanders are all a bunch of wusses. A Yooper would have bargained harder and gotten Satan to throw in a new snowmobile and pair of aluminum snowshoes in exchange for a one-eyed, 80-year-old great-aunt.

Not to mention, it all seemed like a poor imitation of Goodman Brown, without the ambiguity of whether Brown saw the truth or was tricked by his own lack of charity.

BTW have you seen the Death Note live-action B-movies?

EegahInc said...

"Haven't seen this one, mainly because I prefer happy ending movies..."

Then by all means don't watch this. I'm approaching the ending philosophically, but on a gut level after watching it, I wouldn't mind punching Darabont in the throat.

"Bet you didn't know St. Paul wrote about cheesy movies..."

Sounds like there's hope for me yet :)

"Sounds like The Mist was just a pre-cursor to Storm of the Century"

The weird thing is that the original ending in King's novella was actually hopeful. They changed it for the movie, hopefully for the reasons I stated, otherwise they're just jerks.

"BTW have you seen the Death Note live-action B-movies?"

I've thumbed through the manga and watched the first coupe of volumes of the anime, but haven't gotten to the live action stuff. Is it worth checking out?

MissJean said...

I think so. The director of the live action made some interesting changes to the storyline. Personally, the first session of the manga was very good, but later felt more and more thrown together, so the movies were interesting. Plus the script made an interesting change to explain how the bad guy found out a woman's name (a prerequisite): instead of her telling him outright and him killing her secretly, they made her a Catholic. And a lot more interesting, even though she still died.

EegahInc said...

Alright, I'll nab the live actin from Netflix then.

Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

Great novella made into an awful movie.

EegahInc said...

"Great novella made into an awful movie."

I can't argue that too much. The Mist is probably my favorite King short work so, yeah, the movie was a big disappointment. I cut it some slack, though, because I knew it was basically made by a TV crew. Like I said, SyFy movie with a slightly bigger budget due to Darabont's involvement.

Speaking of which, Fr. Erik, I don't think I've heard you mention The Walking Dead. Have you caught any of that?

LarryD said...

"The Mist" remains my favorite King short story/novella. I always liked "Graveyard Shift" too - which was made into a bad B-movie as well, I believe.

EegahInc said...

I could probably do a year's worth of posts on bad Stephen King adaptions!

Scott said...

The thing that pisses me off more than the annoying character played by Marcia Gay Hardin (which may be "poorly written" but unquestionably is annoying), is the fact that the story and the movie are a total rip off of the 1962 grade Z cheapie "The Slime People."

If you don't believe me, rent that movie and check. A good chunk of it is people hiding from monsters in a grocery store.

Now, I don't think King consciously stole the story, but who knows, "The Slime People" probably played on local television A LOT when he was a kid. Check the movie out and see what you think. This is a link to the trailer.

http://www.archive.org/details/TheSlimePeople-Trailer_560

EegahInc said...

Ha, I vaguely remember Slime People from MST3K. I'll have to rewatch it now. I wouldn't be surprised if he saw it as a kid. I just watched a documentary called "All Horror Movies Are About How Stupid Conservatives Are"... um, I mean, called "Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film", and it claims King has never had an original idea, he just knows how to write the same old monsters from a middle America perspective. So who knows...