Written and Directed By Frank Darabont
So, full disclosure, while I had never seen this until today, I was fully aware of the details of the ending beforehand. It’s one of those movies that always ends up on lists of the best/worst/craziest/most memorable endings of all time, and somewhere along the line, I either read or was told about the final scene. But even that knowledge didn’t diminish the impact of Thomas Jane’s acting and that iconic Dead Can Dance song over the final shot. It will stick with me for a long time. To backtrack, though, I had wanted to see this for a while, as a big fan of Darabont and someone who finds Jane underappreciated. This was another instance of him using a Stephen King story to great effect (while drastically changing the ending for the screen), using fear as a tool to show that sometimes the actual monsters aren’t as scary as the monsters that people can become, under the right circumstances. The camerawork, editing and sound design come together to build tension that just keeps on increasing at a steady clip, until it reaches a boiling point that is as unsettling as it is fascinating. The Mist is a statement on human behavior in bad times, ruminating on how quickly society is likely to fall apart in the absence of our conveniences and direction from authority. It deals with fanaticism, the mentality of blind followers and a willingness to trade any freedom and individuality for the feeling of safety or moral superiority. In that light, the film can be viewed as the perfect metaphor for a post-9/11 society. While it can get campy at times in service of its superficial status as a “monster movie,” the prevailing message is all but spelled out as plainly as possible if your eyes and ears are open. What you may need to fear most of all is fear, and what it can do to those you believe you know and trust. And while the relentless, bleak finale probably turned off scores of viewers (who, after all, knew they signed up for a horror film), what better way to drive home the point that hope is a new lease on life and never a death sentence?