I am usually a late commentator on films since I watch few at the theaters and prefer to wait until they come out on DVD. This provides me with a cost savings, and enables me to read reviews and commentary so as not to waste resources on bad films. This last weekend I was able to watch a film that came highly recommended on various websites. It was The Mist, an adaptation of Stephen King’s stories. I am usually hesitant to watch sliver screen adaptations of King’s writings, but was pleased that this film can be added to the small collection of good cinematic treatments of King’s work.
I found this film well directed and acted, and the story provided for chills not merely because of the presence of the mist and its crawling and flying entities, but primarily because the main focus of the film involves the social dynamics of a group of people huddled in a store as the mist descends upon them. This social dynamic and its resulting commentary was the most pleasing and surprising aspect of the film that I enjoyed the most. On other websites I have heard comparisons of this film to social commentary in The Twilight Zone. While I would not take the comparison this far, nevertheless, The Mist includes plenty of critique on religious extremism, politics, the military, even as it wrestles with the darker side of human nature. This all comes together in a scene in the film where several of the characters meet in the store’s loading dock to figure out how they are going to respond to the increasingly bad situation in which they find themselves caused not only by the unknown outside the store, but also by the personality conflicts and decaying social dynamics within it:
DRAYTON: You want another reason to get the hell out of here? I’ll give you the best one. Her. Mrs. Carmody. She’s our very own Jim Jones. I’d like to leave before people start drinking the Kool-Aid.
WEEKS: He’s right. Flakier people get the better she’s gonna look.
DUNFREY: No, I don’t buy that. It’s obvious she’s nuts. Look, a few people, maybe, but…
DRAYTON: No, I count four. She’s preachin’ to ‘em right now. By noon she’ll have four more, by tomorrow night when those things come back she’ll have a congregation, and then we can start worryin’ about who she’s going to sacrifice to make it all better. Hmm? You, Amanda? My little boy?
MILLER: He’s right.
DUNFREY: You don’t have much faith in humanity, do you?
MILLER: None whatsoever.
DUNFREY: I can’t accept that. People are basically good, decent. My God, David, we’re a civilized society.
DRAYTON: Sure, as long as the machines are workin’ and you can dial 9-1-1, but you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them, no more rules, and we’ll see how primitive they get.
MILLER: You scare people badly enough and you can get ‘em to do anything. They’ll turn to whoever promises a solution, or whatever.
DUNFREY: Ollie, please, back me up here.
WEEKS: I wish I could. As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us into a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?
For those who enjoy horror films that stimulate the gray matter with something beyond the red matter, The Mist is worthy of consideration.