I've decided that the For Your Consideration segment is gonna be the post where I talk about a movie that has largely been forgotten but should be appreciated. Today, we talk about The Mist. (Warning: This whole damn post is a spoiler.)
In THE MIST, a mysterious fog envelops a small town forcing a group of people to take refuge in a supermarket. Thomas Jane plays the father of a young boy, and he and the boy are just two of the townsfolk trying to survive as monsters and all sorts of weird stuff come out of the mist and attack the people. The monsters are passable as scary, but there is a heavy reliance on CGI. The director, Frank Darabont does a great job of creating a spooky atmosphere, and the creatures are pretty effective when in the mist and only somewhat detectable. The other "scary" part of the film is the people in the supermarket. A crazy, religious lady starts preaching about the end of the world. Within days, people think she's a prophet. This was actually harder to swallow than a mysterious mist filled with monsters that come from another dimension. By film's end, she's telling her congregation that God and the mist demand a human sacrifice, and her people are cool with that... I mean, granted, I've never been stuck in a supermarket with a crazy lady during a crazy fog, but I'd imagine that it'd take more than a couple days to go batshit crazy.
Anyways... the movie screams "paint-by-numbers," but it isn't. The characters are mostly one-noted (hero guy, good girl, stupid guy, jerk guy, etc) but aren't badly written, and the acting is mostly top notch. There isn't a heavy reliance on "gotcha!" scares, but you knew who was going to die. I would say that it is a good-not-great horror film. So, why am I devoting a post to this movie? BECAUSE THE END IS THE MOST RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME, INSANE, NON-HOLLYWOOD-PAINT-BY-NUMBERS THING I'VE EVER SEEN. More after the jump.
And I'm not talking about the conveniently-timed "twist" at the end. I'm talking about the crazy shit right before the twist. Tom Jane, his little boy, the sane lady, an old man, and an old woman get out of the supermarket in a car. They drive around and come to find that the town has been decimated and destroyed by the creatures from the mist. Soon, the four adults (while the little boy sleeps) resign themselves to a death by a gunshot (over the horrific death at the hands of the unknown). The kicker? Five people and four bullets. Tom Jane points the gun at the kid first... and the kid opens his eyes to see this. We see the horror on the kid's face. The scene then shifts to the outside of the car... and we hear the sounds of four gunshots. Tom Jane then climbs out of the car, covered in blood, in agony and screaming for something to come eat him.
HOLY SHIT. I'm no advocate of shooting a child, but the fact that that happened on film in a Hollywood movie is incredible. As this went down, I distinctly remembered thinking, "Did that just happen?" with my jaw wide open.
It's shocking and provocative, but it makes sense with the story and circumstances. You consider what they went through and what they would go through if they went out on foot. It was a hopeless situation, and Tom Jane's character did what he thought would save his son from a grizzly, painful death. There is a logic to that kind of insanity. It's just... you don't think you'd see that kind of insane truth in a Hollywood horror movie.
And I mean... The balls on the people, who envisioned this and let it happen! THE MIST is based on a Stephen King novella, and this was NOT how it ended in the novella. The end of the novella is that they drive off into the unknown. It wasn't that optimistic, but it wasn't as bleak as the movie version. Stephen King even said that the movie ending was better.
And the balls on the people who fought for this ending! I'm sure that it was met with some resistance. (They killed the f*cking kid!) According to imdb, Darabont agreed to make the film only under the condition that no matter what, they wouldn't change the scripted ending.
Now, the "twist" comes afterward. Shortly after Tom Jane starts screaming outside the car and shooting himself with an empty gun, the mist starts clearing. (Yes, how unfortunately convenient!) The military is seen pushing it back... the implication being that if he had waited, they would have been fine. This feels really forced and mighty implausible, but it also makes me appreciate the fact that they killed the characters even more. They could have had him load it, and then the chick goes, "Wait, stop! Look!" and everything would have been fried chicken... but no. They STILL went with the batshit-crazy ending.
To me, the last 7 minutes of THE MIST symbolizes how everything can be right with movies. It's when focus groups are kicked in the nuts. It's when a director has a clear vision and is allowed to see it through. It's proof that you can still be surprised and jarred and disturbed by a piece of film that is surprising, jarring and disturbing.