How good is it when you can say ‘yeah, but the book was better?’
So, The Mist… The novella by King was published in 1980 and the film adaptation was made in 2007. And my gosh, that film! Have you seen it?! You should. Add it to ya watchlist, m8. The ending is Bleak. Capital B. Trademark emoji. The whole deal.
However, that isn’t why we are here.
This year Spike released a television series based on the novel. Normally this is the point where we’d cue ‘the book was better.’ Except, I haven’t read the book, so idk???? Ahahahaahaha. I hope you feel a little let down by that, because that, friends, is how I feel about the show.
The pilot episode exists to establish characters and the nasty tension between many of them. It isn’t until about the thirty minute mark that the thick mist even rolls into Bridgeville, Maine. I had to do that thing where I skipped to a good part (i.e. someone dying) to keep myself motivated enough to watch it. Fuck. Honestly. Just kill a dude already! To make it worse, none of the characters are engaging. None. Most are the usual television tropes (familiar to both King’s narratives and American drama) and likewise are the problematic relationship webs weaved across the town. Episode 1 is hard to get through but things are looking up, kids.
Well, at least for us as viewers… not so much for our cast of doomed souls. There are things lurking in the mist and they are here to fuck. you. up. Ghosts! And monsters! And murderous giant bugs! Oh my!
As we watch these people work out what is happening, we begin to see that the threat isn’t lying just within the mist outside the door, but within their own pettiness as humans and within the pre-existing problems they have with each other. That isn’t a new concept, and it’s been done to death. What? We are the monsters? Wow! So philosophical! Amazing! What? Our own repressed emotions and fears eventually bubble to the surface in little (and sometimes huge… murderous) acts of aggression and selfishness? What a revelation! That’s King though. He’s always been more interested in people as monsters and human fear itself. Obviously, this is best exemplified by It. Despite Pennywise being the hyper-sexualised queer icon meme he now is, he is meant to bring us face to face with our own fears. This theme is definitely alive in The Mist too.
To the show’s credit, there are some progressive moments regarding race, sexuality and identity. It uses gore well; it doesn’t fuck about when it wants impact but doesn’t saturate the audience in horror. The pacing is alright and it is a visually pleasing thing to watch. The star of the show is undoubtedly Francis Conroy as the unnerving widow who loves a spot of gardening and staring off into the distance. She also loves the environment. Spiders are her bff. And moths. Big on moths. You just know she’s gonna get people killed, but you know what? I’m here for it. You go, Franny CoCo.
Literally every other aspect of the show is mediocre. Acting. Dialogue. Character development. It’s all just forced and bearable only because of the unyielding need to know what horrors are waiting to be introduced. I want to see these people suffer basically, so in the end I don’t care much how interesting they are. (Spoiler: not very.)
The worst part of the show is its ‘villains’ – the characters that are meant to cause conflict. Some of them are the kind of borderline type, people that aren’t clearly good or bad. However, even they are not compelling, so I’m mostly just ?????? eh ????? about them. Junkie girl with shady past. Amnesic soldier. White cop with football kid accused of sexual assault. Priest. Suburban mother who used to be a ~~**~*~bad grl 4 lyf~*~**~~ according to her husband’s brother. The show is trying hard to make these people riveting but mostly I just want to watch them lose their minds and like, eat their own arm off. Idk. Get stung by a big ass bee in the eyeball or something.
Look, I stuck with it until the end of the season because I came here to see some shit go down. You know what I mean? I wanna see someone get all their blood drained by a million leeches that appear out of fuckin’ nowhere. And if that’s your intent too, well jump on a bus to good ol’ Bridgeville (…or Netflix, because the show is streaming there). If you’re looking for something with a bit more guts (metaphorically speaking) then this isn’t the King adaption for you.
While we are here… Meredith reviewed It already, and like her and I, it seems the world is buzzing with a resurgence of Stephen King love. The Dark Tower is coming to cinemas soon. I’ve never tried to read that series of novels; my mum says they’re ~cool~ though, if that means anything. And have you heard about Castle Rock? Hulu are soon to stream a television series that is essentially the best ever example of multiverse and intertextuality. King for dayzzzzzzzz, friends. ‘Tis the season to be spooky.
Ah… anyway… I guess since Meredith has made me an official contributor to this blog, I better start to fall in line with The Man and give The Mist a star rating.
The Mist gets 3 out of 5 stars and an indifferent shrug of the shoulder.