The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, November 23, 2007

"The Mist" (2007)

The Mist (2007)

Wow. Arguably the very best adaptation of a Stephen King horror story (was “Misery” horror? If so, that might have been better. Maybe…MAYBE “Carrie”. But that’s all.) Director/writer Frank Darabount’s adaptation of a classic novella is nerve-wracking, gross, intelligent, heartbreaking, and genuinely frightening as few horror films are in this era of torture porn. The tale of a group of Main townies trapped in a Piggly Wiggly when a mysterious mist rolls in…concealing Lovecraftian horrors. Oh. That also makes it the best Lovecraft movie ever made, except that it isn’t based on Lovecraft. It’s really that good, concentrating on the human horrors, the breakdown of community and logic and faith. And a tale of the simple human bonds that sustain us in extremity. With excellent turns by all actors involved (including Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, a terrific Toby Jones, and a career-best performance from Thomas Jane as the artist and father trying desperately to protect his son from the crawling madness), The Mist fires on all cylinders and delivers the creepy goods. Darabount, who also directed “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile”, is so deeply on King’s wavelength it is uncanny. Almost no other director has understood how to actually generate the fear that King does at his best. By concentrating on characters and community, getting the small, mundane details right, he nails it for the third time. And the ending is simply a horror-movie classic. Serious, no b.s. way to go, Frank! An A-.


I should have known: after all, Darabount did direct "The Green Mile," perhaps the most unwatchable excellent movie of my experience. There are four black male characters with dialog in "Mist." All die. Andre Brauer, while not dying first, dies second, and uselessly. Unless I wanted to extend more humanity to whites than they were evidently willing to extend to blacks, my level of empathy dropped a bit. As a result, the ending that upset many others didn’t bother me even a smattering. My coping mechanism: when I realize the filmmakers don’t care about people of my ethnicity, it diminishes my caring for theirs—in the fictional context. I can chew popcorn and giggle as they get thrown into the meat grinder.
Line 'em up.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie, just the ads: having read your blog for a few months now, when I saw that Braugher, a favorite actor since Homicide, and the only black man I saw in the ads, was also show dying in the ad -- I immediately thought of your pointing out this trend in mainstream Hollywood films.

Most Stephen King stories take place in almost-completely white New England small towns... I don't what the original story featured, but I can't imagine Darabont consciously planning to have all four four black men in the cast die... But how could he not see that was the end result, and change it before completing the film?

It's sad, and weird.

-- Paul Worthington

Mike R said...

>But how could he not see that was the end result, and change it before completing the film?<

Because it's a blind spot - which by definition one can not see. I knew "the black guy always dies first" before I ever started reading or talking with Steve, but I didn't have a clue how pervasive it was before reading post after post (after post, after post) on this blog.

Steven Barnes said...

Most specifically, BECAUSE ITS A BLIND SPOT THAT WORKS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE. It's unconscious because it is a guilty pleasure. Raise it to consciousness, and it conflicts with consciously held values,and they have to do something about it. So long as it's's "who, me? What, us? No, of course not..." deny, deny, deny until the statistics are rammed down your throat. Human beings are so funny...

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