The HorrorDads meet The Mist

In follow-up to our three-part roundtable discussion on raising children in the shadow of our shared love of horror, the HorrorDads have reunited and will reteam periodically to discuss works important to the genre.  This week, we’ll chew the fat about the controversial ending of Frank Darabont’s THE MIST (2007).  SPOILERS AHOY!

As before, this august group is comprised of:

JEFF ALLARD of Dinner With Max Jenke and Shock Till You Drop.

DENNIS COZZALIO of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

GREG FERRARA of Cinema Styles and Unexplained Cinema.

PAUL GAITA of many articles, interviews and reviews for The New York Times, The LA Times, LA Weekly and Rue Morgue.

NICHOLAS MCCARTHY, LA-based horror filmmaker.

And yours truly.  And so we begin…

RHS: The ending of Frank Darabont’s THE MIST… discuss.

PAUL GAITA: In a nutshell: urgh. I understand Darabont’s stated need to make the work his own but I felt like that ending was an unnecessary sucker punch designed entirely to keep with the everything-turns-black-in-the-end trend of modern horror. Nothing in the moments preceding it indicated that the film would head in this direction, which made that trapdoor of an ending feel exceptionally cruel. The source material’s original ending – in which David Drayton believes he hears a transmission from New Hampshire over the radio – offers only a glimmer of possible salvation.  Still dark, still doomy, but just a hint of light, which I’d have preferred over this nihilistic take. I liked everything about that pic prior to that ending, but afterwards, I had a sour taste in my mouth about the whole film. Again: urgh.

RHS: Your feelings pretty much mirror my own.  There was a broadness to the playing throughout, from Marcia Gay Harden’s pigheaded fundamentalist to the assortment of hayseeds trapped in the supermarket (somehow Stephen King can pull off this kind of caricature on the page but it never really works for me in the films made from his books) and that didn’t jibe for me with that ending.  I appreciate that Frank Darabont was trying to depict the ultimate horror, even worse than your child dying at the hands of a monster: your child dying by your calm and steady hand… for no reason.  But at the end credit crawl, I was just mad at the movie, not swept away by the horror of it all.

NICHOLAS MCCARTHY: I really couldn’t have said it better than you guys.  This ending felt like a deeply misguided gesture, aiming for some larger meaning than what had been earned.  To me it was so ruinous it felt like this interesting film had suddenly, unexplainably committed suicide.   It does raise a question of how far a horror filmmaker should push their material into what we connect with as a “real life” horror — in this case, depicting a parent mercy killing his own children, something all but unimaginable though surely a reality in war. But films are fantasies and each film has its own rules, and I felt Darabont misjudged his hold on his material and his audience.  In many ways I respect him for wanting to treat the genre seriously, but there’s a line that was crossed here into not only poor taste but pretentiousness. Which is a really ugly combination.

PAUL GAITA: Well said. The injection of “real life horror” into a film so deliberately steeped in fantasy – no matter how representative the bugs and monster birds are intended to be – strikes this harsh tone that is in total conflict with the rest of the film. And you’re absolutely right about the pretentiousness of the ending – it felt like Darabont was telling the audience, “Okay, here’s the real problem with paranoia and distrust – the rest of the movie, that’s just monster flick jazz.” A lecture with giant bugs, I don’t need.

NICHOLAS MCCARTHY: Unless, of course, this is a lecture by a 1950′s-period scientist about the effects of radiation on ants, preying mantis’, tarantulas, killer shrews etc.

PAUL GAITA: With a concluding note on the inevitability of their world domination.

GREG FERRARA: It felt cheap and gimmicky and that a director would end this type of film that way indicated to me that he didn’t understand the material very well.  Let me explain what I mean by that.   If I’m watching JAWS (1975) and, somehow, Spielberg gets Brody’s son on the Orca with him, and it ends with Brody shooting his son rather than see his son killed by the shark, and then right after he kills him a Coast Guard boat pulls up and kills the shark, the entire essence of the movie JAWS is lost.  The ending is saying “a thriller about a shark terrorizing a beach town isn’t worthy of your time so let me give you profound nihilism instead.”  If a director understands the material he knows it is worthy of your time and putting that kind of ending on it destroys the whole thing.  Spielberg got it, Darabont did not.  That kind of ending says to me that Darabont, even though he loves adapting Stephen King, felt the material beneath him.  And boy was he wrong!  I love the main supermarket section of the film and it contains plenty of real emotion, like when the woman gets stung and swells and dies.  That’s heartbreaking when that happens.  Darabont wasn’t watching his own movie.

JEFF ALLARD: My main thought after THE MIST was over was that Frank Darabont obviously doesn’t have kids! It’s not that a parent wouldn’t write a ruthless scene where a parent had to sacrifice their child but in the context of what was happening, it’s almost impossible to believe that Jane’s character would’ve pulled the trigger in that moment. It pushes plausibility to the limit and I don’t think a parent would’ve written it as Darabont did. If a horde of inter-dimensional spiders were making their way into the vehicle and David Drayton only had the one bullet left in the gun, sure. But if David and his son are both just sitting there – well, just sitting there surrounded by the bodies of the three people who just had their brains blown out – that’s a harder thing to accept.

RHS: I spent a considerable amount of time trying to imagine the exact order of the deaths at the end.  I can’t see David killing his son first, because then it’s not the last resort such an action must be.  But I also can’t see him killing or turning the gun over to two other people so that the boy’s last memory of life would be the deaths of two other people.  The end of the movie makes me feel like a homicide cop at the scene of the crime, scratching my chin and saying “It doesn’t add up.”

GREG FERRARA: Jeff’s point about a lack of urgency in the scene where David has to shoot his son is, I think, exactly right.  That’s what I thought too, and perhaps that was one more reason I didn’t like it.  I can’t imagine ever, ever having to make a choice to kill my daughter, ever.  The only way, the absolute only way that would ever, ever, ever come into play would be if, as Jeff says, the spiders are making their way in and I know, in seconds, we will be consumed in a horrifying death.  However, and I know this may sound crazy, I think even then my defense mechanisms would kick in and I would use the last bullet to shoot a spider and then start punching and flailing wildly, doing anything I could to fight them off.  I don’t know if, under any circumstances, I would ever make the choice to kill my child.

JEFF ALLARD: I do think that Darabont sets up the ending with Mrs. Carmody’s talk of a blood sacrifice. All the events she prophesied throughout the movie come true and I think Darabont wants us to wonder at the conclusion if David had never shot his son, had never made that sacrifice, would the mist have remained indefinitely. Darabont puts our sympathies with David yet he continually shows Mrs. Carmody to have been right. Had David and his son gotten out clean, it would’ve been just a validation of David’s point of view. As is, it seems to affirm Mrs. Carmody’s beliefs. In line with that, I think of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), where Harry Cooper was someone who was right for all the wrong reasons. Granted, it may be nothing but a cheap shock ending, that Darabont just thought “man, wouldn’t be nuts if I had David shoot his son?” but I’d like to think it wasn’t so lamely intended. The ending I was hoping for was that eventually the survivors would wind up driving into the other universe. I could imagine the car driving against a cool matte painting like something that would’ve come from David Drayton’s drawing board of that eldritch landscape.  Oh well – call it a “mist” opportunity!

DENNIS COZZALIO: Personally, I came out of the movie properly devastated, and by that I mean the way I feel Darabont intended. I am one who has no use for Darabont’s previous Stephen King adaptations, so I wondered just how much of the meat of King’s story—a terrific parable of desperate fear, zealotry and mob rule with some fascinating connections to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD —he would run with. Turns out he ran further than even King was willing. King’s story, I think, hinted at some of the kinds of alternate endings that have been offered up here, but really, the experience of reading the story for me was that it simply petered out just at the point where I wanted some sort of urgency. That faint broadcast from New Hampshire was, after all I’d been through reading it, not enough for me. The sense of them driving off into a world that was about to radically change was a cop-out of its own in terms, in that I didn’t feel King had come up with a convincing way to end his own story. The structure of set-up, pay-off, set-up, pay-off was harmfully ignored by this sudden turn toward the elliptic.

RHS: Do you think the rest of us Horror Dads are being oversensitive?  Putting “dad” before “horror”?

DENNIS COZZALIO: There has been a lot of anger expressed here about that ending, especially when we put ourselves in David Drayton’s shoes. It’s not something we can imagine doing ourselves – I certainly can’t – and maybe that imaginative leap is the movie’s fault against each individual viewer who has that reaction. But we are talking about a situation where even the brutal irony of the military’s untimely arrival after the horrific acts are finished tells us nothing about what is to come.

GREG FERRARA: I much prefer how I thought it was going to end, which is to say, they drive hopelessly and the inter-dimensional world has fully taken over.  They stop and see the massive creatures walking about them and the camera either fades out or pulls away in a shot to eventually reveal the entire planet now looking like Venus, awash in a mist of clouds.  But instead we got the shooting ending.  And it wasn’t just the shooting that bothered me but, quite frankly, the unimaginative resolution of the creature problem.  Apparently, all the military needed to do was shoot flames at them and problem solved.

DENNIS COZZALIO: But I think it’s too big of a jump to assume that the military has this all figured out. They’ve got one sector of a situation momentarily under control. That’s all we’re told. That’s all we see. The movie has no more assurance for the future of mankind that it has for David Drayton’s sanity, and it’s his future, one in which he’s left to grapple with his actions and the possibility that he’s now ill-prepared to deal with anything else he might be asked to do— that the movie leaves us with. This guy is a far cry from the steadying heroic presence he was throughout the film by the time of that fade-out.  We are talking about the end of the world here, however fantastical that concept might be framed, and that’s why I think Harden’s performance works like gangbusters. I really appreciate Jeff’s mentioning the fact that for all her sordid religiosity, she’s spot on in terms of envisioning what comes to be—this element of fanaticism fulfilled is a familiar strain in King’s work. But to connect it to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, where the good character who stays upstairs to fight is wrong for the right reasons, and the weaselly guy who wants to hide in the basement is right for the wrong reasons, reverberates with this movie and the way it ends too. David Drayton, at the end, is certainly wrong for the right reasons. There’s a certain heightened level to the movie, but in terms of the way it plays out I think it’s fairly clear that we’re to take this seriously, and to the degree that it encourages us to do so while still honoring its genre roots— not turning its nose up at them or lecturing us for our enjoyment of it—I think it’s very successful. Obviously the question is whether that injection of “real-life horror” is a betrayal or an extreme fulfillment of what has come before.

GREG FERRARA: To me, and this is key in dealing with film structure, you have to take one story or the other, that of the survivors struggling through or the scientists/military working on a solution, or do both by giving each story equal time so we as viewers can follow the results.  This story, like THE BIRDS (1963), is all about the survivors.  The science/military response never once figures into it.  And so, an ending like that of THE BIRDS, where no solution to the problem has been arrived at, is the proper one, purely from a basic Storytelling 101 approach.  To suddenly throw in “Oh see, the military got this whole thing figured out” at the end is a jarring break in the story structure.  So once again, it’s the difference between being a classic (JAWS, THE BIRDS) and being THE MIST.

DENNIS COZZALIO: Greg, I see your point about the ending and the director’s understanding of the material, but I disagree with your analogy and your conclusion. I believe we are talking about apples and oranges here if were going to try to compare JAWS and THE MISTJAWS is a boy’s adventure writ large and it’s about as exhilarating and entertaining as could be, and it wrings a lot of comedy from its jolts, its dread, and the way it dissects a certain kind of working-class machismo. Yes, if JAWS pulled this kind of about-face, with no tonal preparation and certainly no thematic suggestion that such a sacrifice was possible, it would definitely be a betrayal of the audience and a misunderstanding of the material. But when you say “The ending is saying, ‘a thriller about a shark terrorizing a beach town isn’t worthy of your time so let me give you profound nihilism instead,’” that’s the ending to this imaginary version of JAWS you’re talking about. The entirety of THE MIST is built around the very urgent duty of Thomas Jane’s character protecting his son at all costs, a story element that is only of peripheral interest, and for maybe a moment or two, in JAWS. So when a story that is built around a mounting apocalypse from which the main participants in the story are literally clouded and kept unaware of exactly the nature and degree of the horror, when the father has seen the horrific results of that invasion visited on his wife, and he concluded, with exhaustion and a doubtless lack of clear thinking, that the best route is violent escape before such a fact can be visited on his son, then yes, I have no trouble believing that in the context of the movie. I think when you get to this point in the movie Darabont has prepared the viewer as best he can for his gruesomely ironic finish. It didn’t strike me as false or opportunistic—chewing on the nightmare this man has inadvertently made for himself was plenty to keep me engaged and devastated when the film was over.

RHS: The lesson here is, I guess, that you can’t work this stuff out like a logarithm.  It’s only a movie, only a movie… yet when these things nag at you, it is very hard to dismiss them.

DENNIS COZZALIO: Richard, I completely agree. I’m glad that they’re hard to dismiss, and I’d bet we are all too, whether we liked the ending or not. It’s what thinking about art is all about. The difference here is that most of you seem to have received that nagging from the perspective of being bothered by the movie’s approach to telling its story, or being asked to accept in a movie what we could never accept as fathers. Whether it is “just” a monster movie or a more difficult, more effective apocalyptic story, David Drayton’s actions are no doubt rash and obviously (with 20-20 hindsight) ill-advised. My perspective is that I’m not blaming the movie for those actions, or Darabont for being blind, cynical and opportunistic in delivering them.  I was discussing all this with my wife and she reminded me of a similar, perhaps even more horrifying sacrificial ending, that of Michael Tolkin’s THE RAPTURE (1991).  Mimi Rogers, in a religious fever, kills her own daughter in anticipation of being swept up to heaven at world’s end. But the act shocks her out of her fervor and leaves her with so much confusion and anger and disbelief that God would require such a deed of her that, rather than accepting the prospect of being reunited with her daughter in God’s kingdom, she rejects God altogether and chooses eternal isolation instead. Again, THE MIST and THE RAPTURE are fundamentally apples and oranges, but I was glad she reminded me of Tolkin’s movie.

RHS: I certainly thought of THE RAPTURE during the final frames of THE MIST and I don’t think they’re as dissimilar as apples and oranges.  They may even be first cousins, as the Biblical Apocalypse rearing its head at the end of the Tolkin film is the jumping off point for Darabont’s.  And yet both of those movies felt to me cold and academic; they offered me gut punches where I thought there should be heartache. A movie that really delivered the requisite trauma to me was STORM OF THE CENTURY (1999), a made-for-TV adaptation of another Stephen King book, adapted by King himself and directed by Craig Baxley.  In a set-up very similar to THE MIST, a supernatural occurrence lays siege to a small coastal town and the townsfolk wind up making an offering of the protagonist’s son to a demonic figure, maybe even the Devil himself.  The father, played by Tim Daly, has tried to protect his son throughout but he is betrayed by his neighbors and even his wife and must watch impotently as his child is born aloft by this winged thing (an ending sampled, it seemed, by Victor Salva in JEEPERS CREEPERS), torn from him, torn from humanity, doomed or destined to become demonic himself.  And the hero of the story just has to eat it – he can’t even mourn for the death of his son, because the boy is immortally evil, his childhood innocence erased, negated.  That ending was, to me, far more devastating than the final frames of THE MIST because it suggests something more horrible than the possibility that you will bring about your child’s death… that when the time comes you will be powerless to save your child.  That’s a nightmare I think we can all get behind.
I want to thank the HorrorDads for another invigorating and informative talk.  We will return soon for another roundtable discussion, of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s 1976 Spanish shocker WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?
30 Responses The HorrorDads meet The Mist
Posted By Craig Blamer : September 10, 2010 11:56 am

The only way the ending of The Mist worked for me was of the meta sort…. that as a homage to 50s horror, the sucker-punch ending represented the transition when the tone of horror abruptly (and forever) changed with the nihilistic ending of NotLD.

Posted By Craig Blamer : September 10, 2010 11:56 am

The only way the ending of The Mist worked for me was of the meta sort…. that as a homage to 50s horror, the sucker-punch ending represented the transition when the tone of horror abruptly (and forever) changed with the nihilistic ending of NotLD.

Posted By The Sc-Fi Fanatic : September 10, 2010 9:21 pm

I absolutely LOVE The Mist and I have to admit the arguments against the ending the film here are compelling. As a parent, I really understand the rationale behind them and you essentially began winning me over with your consideration of this ending as false by Darabont.

Everyone here makes some amazing points. Greg F really hit me with his remarks about never ever being able to do it. I too really understand where he’s coming from in his comments…. but then Dennis comes back and puts me back where I was originally on the film…with him.

I was levelled. Devastated! I was pained by the ending and I hadn’t seen a film be that gutsy like that since The Crying Game [just throwing a movie out there]. But, like Dennis said, I think Darabont properly built the sense of helplessness throughout the film to bring us to that moment. He’s right, and while I like the example of Jaws, it wouldn’t have worked the same way and would have been shocking and out of place. The Mist builds to this ending and it is credible. I can’t imagine the terror that was explored in that film, but it is properly executed throughout. I think Darabont really takes a chance, but it worked for me in a truly disturbing way.

But then again… I don’t know fellow Horror Dads, this is a tough one. And like the murky Mist I fear I may forever be thinking about this film. Thanks for the memories [or not], but this was a great debate.

Posted By The Sc-Fi Fanatic : September 10, 2010 9:21 pm

I absolutely LOVE The Mist and I have to admit the arguments against the ending the film here are compelling. As a parent, I really understand the rationale behind them and you essentially began winning me over with your consideration of this ending as false by Darabont.

Everyone here makes some amazing points. Greg F really hit me with his remarks about never ever being able to do it. I too really understand where he’s coming from in his comments…. but then Dennis comes back and puts me back where I was originally on the film…with him.

I was levelled. Devastated! I was pained by the ending and I hadn’t seen a film be that gutsy like that since The Crying Game [just throwing a movie out there]. But, like Dennis said, I think Darabont properly built the sense of helplessness throughout the film to bring us to that moment. He’s right, and while I like the example of Jaws, it wouldn’t have worked the same way and would have been shocking and out of place. The Mist builds to this ending and it is credible. I can’t imagine the terror that was explored in that film, but it is properly executed throughout. I think Darabont really takes a chance, but it worked for me in a truly disturbing way.

But then again… I don’t know fellow Horror Dads, this is a tough one. And like the murky Mist I fear I may forever be thinking about this film. Thanks for the memories [or not], but this was a great debate.

Posted By Steven Hart : September 10, 2010 10:32 pm

I’m with the ending-haters. If the killing of David’s son embodies the blood sacrifice prophesied by Mrs. Carmody, then it would have been more fitting for David to kill himself. I could imagine David waiting for his son to fall asleep, then slipping out into the mist and taking his own life as the creatures closed in. Then the clearing of the mist would have felt earned and in keeping with the rest of the film.

Posted By Steven Hart : September 10, 2010 10:32 pm

I’m with the ending-haters. If the killing of David’s son embodies the blood sacrifice prophesied by Mrs. Carmody, then it would have been more fitting for David to kill himself. I could imagine David waiting for his son to fall asleep, then slipping out into the mist and taking his own life as the creatures closed in. Then the clearing of the mist would have felt earned and in keeping with the rest of the film.

Posted By Steven Hart : September 11, 2010 9:59 am

I would contrast my dislike of the conclusion of “The Mist” with my reaction to “The Descent,” which if anything drives a stake even deeper through the heart of parental love. As much as I admire the originality and visceral tension of “The Descent,” I will never be able to watch it again because (SPOILER AHEAD) of the opening scene, with the daughter’s death, and the ending, in which the daughter’s hallucinatory reappearance is the only form of escape left for the heroine. But I recognize that my reaction is strictly a personal matter, and while I will forevermore keep my distance from “The Descent,” I also recognize it as a singularly powerful horror film.

My reaction to the ending of “The Mist” was, quite simply, scorn. I thought the film used primal emotions in a cheap, unearned manner. I’d also been having problems with some of the cheesier CGI work, but I was willing to cut the film slack until that ending.

Posted By Steven Hart : September 11, 2010 9:59 am

I would contrast my dislike of the conclusion of “The Mist” with my reaction to “The Descent,” which if anything drives a stake even deeper through the heart of parental love. As much as I admire the originality and visceral tension of “The Descent,” I will never be able to watch it again because (SPOILER AHEAD) of the opening scene, with the daughter’s death, and the ending, in which the daughter’s hallucinatory reappearance is the only form of escape left for the heroine. But I recognize that my reaction is strictly a personal matter, and while I will forevermore keep my distance from “The Descent,” I also recognize it as a singularly powerful horror film.

My reaction to the ending of “The Mist” was, quite simply, scorn. I thought the film used primal emotions in a cheap, unearned manner. I’d also been having problems with some of the cheesier CGI work, but I was willing to cut the film slack until that ending.

Posted By Tara : September 12, 2010 4:15 am

Really interesting discussion, dads. Thank you. I am very grateful for the spoilers, because the film mentioned is one I now know I never want to see. It would be too horrible to have in my memory banks.

Posted By Tara : September 12, 2010 4:15 am

Really interesting discussion, dads. Thank you. I am very grateful for the spoilers, because the film mentioned is one I now know I never want to see. It would be too horrible to have in my memory banks.

Posted By joe : September 12, 2010 10:38 am

I think you all missed a lot in your viewings of the Mist in coming to the conclusions that the ending didn’t work properly.
the idea of a sort of “pureness of soul” is what drives this story and decides the fate of each of the characters in the movie.

There’s the kid in the store who is the first to be killed, and who dies because of his sin of ego and ignorance in wanting to go out the back door into the mist to unclog the vent or whatever. Then there’s the Marcia Gay Harden character who is “Pure” when she’s crazily spouting the word of god, and thus doesn’t get stung by the giant mosquito when they break into the store. But once she sins by putting herself above god as a god, that is when she’s killed by the bag boy, which is also his sin and is why he’s later killed in the parking lot as they try to escape.

And this works the other way, which we see if you pay attention to the early scene in the store when the mother risks everything to get back to her children who are alone at home, a “pure” gesture on her part, and then we see that her and her children are on the military truck at the end, safe and together, because of this “Pure” deed.

Now this “purity” is what saves Thomas Jane and his son throughout the movie, he’s doing everything right to help others, and help himself. But when he picks up the gun out in the parking lot when the small group is trying to get away, this is his sin which turns things, and puts his fate on the other side of good and evil, leading him towards the ultimate ending of killing the others and his son.

It is that scene in the parking lot where Thomas Jane, his son, the woman, and the older couple are already in the car and they’re about to drive away, but Thomas sees the gun on the hood of the car and tries to grab it that sets up the ending perfectly, and is what i think you’ve all missed. The others are screaming at him to leave the gun, get in the car, and just go. We’ve even seen the bag boy use the gun and seal his own tragic fate. Yet Thomas Jane makes his decision there to continue for the gun, bringing it with him, which then seals his fate by even allowing the possibility of the ending to occur in having the gun with him. Had he listened to the others and left the “Evil” gun, a sin of man, on the hood of the car and drove off, they would have been just sitting there as the mist disipated, and god would’ve decided their fate, instead of them even having the choice of killing themselves.

In the end it shows if you are weak and don’t trust in god, your human frailties will bring you down. I am not a religious man, but this was still an easy theme to see and understand, which includes the ending, showing that even a good man can be lead astray by weakness.

Posted By joe : September 12, 2010 10:38 am

I think you all missed a lot in your viewings of the Mist in coming to the conclusions that the ending didn’t work properly.
the idea of a sort of “pureness of soul” is what drives this story and decides the fate of each of the characters in the movie.

There’s the kid in the store who is the first to be killed, and who dies because of his sin of ego and ignorance in wanting to go out the back door into the mist to unclog the vent or whatever. Then there’s the Marcia Gay Harden character who is “Pure” when she’s crazily spouting the word of god, and thus doesn’t get stung by the giant mosquito when they break into the store. But once she sins by putting herself above god as a god, that is when she’s killed by the bag boy, which is also his sin and is why he’s later killed in the parking lot as they try to escape.

And this works the other way, which we see if you pay attention to the early scene in the store when the mother risks everything to get back to her children who are alone at home, a “pure” gesture on her part, and then we see that her and her children are on the military truck at the end, safe and together, because of this “Pure” deed.

Now this “purity” is what saves Thomas Jane and his son throughout the movie, he’s doing everything right to help others, and help himself. But when he picks up the gun out in the parking lot when the small group is trying to get away, this is his sin which turns things, and puts his fate on the other side of good and evil, leading him towards the ultimate ending of killing the others and his son.

It is that scene in the parking lot where Thomas Jane, his son, the woman, and the older couple are already in the car and they’re about to drive away, but Thomas sees the gun on the hood of the car and tries to grab it that sets up the ending perfectly, and is what i think you’ve all missed. The others are screaming at him to leave the gun, get in the car, and just go. We’ve even seen the bag boy use the gun and seal his own tragic fate. Yet Thomas Jane makes his decision there to continue for the gun, bringing it with him, which then seals his fate by even allowing the possibility of the ending to occur in having the gun with him. Had he listened to the others and left the “Evil” gun, a sin of man, on the hood of the car and drove off, they would have been just sitting there as the mist disipated, and god would’ve decided their fate, instead of them even having the choice of killing themselves.

In the end it shows if you are weak and don’t trust in god, your human frailties will bring you down. I am not a religious man, but this was still an easy theme to see and understand, which includes the ending, showing that even a good man can be lead astray by weakness.

Posted By kassy : September 12, 2010 6:07 pm

The ending of The Mist hurt, I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. There was a sense of wait this is wrong, that’s not how the Stephen King story ended. Then it hits you that Thomas Jane had just killed his son unnecessarily. I really enjoyed the movie and the ending, don’t get me wrong, but I remember the jolt of the ending was somewhat painful at the time. Great discussion, I’m looking forward to Who Can Kill a Child.

Posted By kassy : September 12, 2010 6:07 pm

The ending of The Mist hurt, I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. There was a sense of wait this is wrong, that’s not how the Stephen King story ended. Then it hits you that Thomas Jane had just killed his son unnecessarily. I really enjoyed the movie and the ending, don’t get me wrong, but I remember the jolt of the ending was somewhat painful at the time. Great discussion, I’m looking forward to Who Can Kill a Child.

Posted By Dennis Cozzalio : September 13, 2010 4:52 pm

“If the killing of David’s son embodies the blood sacrifice prophesied by Mrs. Carmody, then it would have been more fitting for David to kill himself. I could imagine David waiting for his son to fall asleep, then slipping out into the mist and taking his own life as the creatures closed in. Then the clearing of the mist would have felt earned and in keeping with the rest of the film.”

Steven: The problem is, the sacrifice Mrs. Carmody is a variety of the Old Testament- Abraham model, the difference being that this time God doesn’t intervene. (Mrs. Carmody and the rest of us might draw different conclusions as to what that silence means, but that’s par for the course.) And if this is true, then David slipping away to kill himself might justifiably be viewed as a form of cowardice– I don’t recall many instances of Old Testament worshippers offing themselves as appeasement to God. What I hear you saying is, it’s somehow more acceptable for Jane’s character, who believes that an inevitable ghastly death perpetuated by some awful creature is the inevitable fate in store for his son and himself, to go off and put a bullet in his own head, knowing full well right up to the moment of his death that his beloved son will probably be horribly mutilated, as long as he escapes the same fate himself. Why would he do this unless he’d gotten an advance look at the script and knew that by some miracle the mist was about to clear? Speaking entirely about the motivation of the father in the moment, not to whether or not he is correct or incorrect in regards to what ultimately happens, it’s a choice between leaving the horrific duty to himself, thus providing the boy an instantaneous escape, or leaving him alive to endure God knows how much pain and finally a much more awful demise. (Again, there’s nothing at this point to suggest any other choice. The appearance of the soldiers doesn’t portend victory, just military movement, activity.) I know a lot of this just comes down to how much horror we can personally stand– and believe me, I have my own limits– but I just think it’s unfair to say that this horror movie has somehow left us emotionally or narratively unprepared for its genuinely horrific denouement.

Posted By Dennis Cozzalio : September 13, 2010 4:52 pm

“If the killing of David’s son embodies the blood sacrifice prophesied by Mrs. Carmody, then it would have been more fitting for David to kill himself. I could imagine David waiting for his son to fall asleep, then slipping out into the mist and taking his own life as the creatures closed in. Then the clearing of the mist would have felt earned and in keeping with the rest of the film.”

Steven: The problem is, the sacrifice Mrs. Carmody is a variety of the Old Testament- Abraham model, the difference being that this time God doesn’t intervene. (Mrs. Carmody and the rest of us might draw different conclusions as to what that silence means, but that’s par for the course.) And if this is true, then David slipping away to kill himself might justifiably be viewed as a form of cowardice– I don’t recall many instances of Old Testament worshippers offing themselves as appeasement to God. What I hear you saying is, it’s somehow more acceptable for Jane’s character, who believes that an inevitable ghastly death perpetuated by some awful creature is the inevitable fate in store for his son and himself, to go off and put a bullet in his own head, knowing full well right up to the moment of his death that his beloved son will probably be horribly mutilated, as long as he escapes the same fate himself. Why would he do this unless he’d gotten an advance look at the script and knew that by some miracle the mist was about to clear? Speaking entirely about the motivation of the father in the moment, not to whether or not he is correct or incorrect in regards to what ultimately happens, it’s a choice between leaving the horrific duty to himself, thus providing the boy an instantaneous escape, or leaving him alive to endure God knows how much pain and finally a much more awful demise. (Again, there’s nothing at this point to suggest any other choice. The appearance of the soldiers doesn’t portend victory, just military movement, activity.) I know a lot of this just comes down to how much horror we can personally stand– and believe me, I have my own limits– but I just think it’s unfair to say that this horror movie has somehow left us emotionally or narratively unprepared for its genuinely horrific denouement.

Posted By Dennis Cozzalio : September 13, 2010 6:18 pm

“Why would he do this unless he’d gotten an advance look at the script and knew that by some miracle the mist was about to clear?”

Of course if he’d read ahead like that, he wouldn’t have to shoot himself, period. Duh.

My point, badly undercut by the above half-baked thought, was that I don’t believe he’d leave the boy to face that ultimate horror alone. Since he believes death at the hands of the creatures is inevitable, it seems more acceptable to me, as a parent who wants to spare his child as much horror as possible, that he would deliver the horror onto himself by providing a relatively painless escape for the boy and leaving himself to the uncertainty. Or as it turns out, the agonizing irony of a possible deliverance and the madness sure to come.

Posted By Dennis Cozzalio : September 13, 2010 6:18 pm

“Why would he do this unless he’d gotten an advance look at the script and knew that by some miracle the mist was about to clear?”

Of course if he’d read ahead like that, he wouldn’t have to shoot himself, period. Duh.

My point, badly undercut by the above half-baked thought, was that I don’t believe he’d leave the boy to face that ultimate horror alone. Since he believes death at the hands of the creatures is inevitable, it seems more acceptable to me, as a parent who wants to spare his child as much horror as possible, that he would deliver the horror onto himself by providing a relatively painless escape for the boy and leaving himself to the uncertainty. Or as it turns out, the agonizing irony of a possible deliverance and the madness sure to come.

Posted By John W. Morehead : September 14, 2010 9:22 pm

Great film and discussion. Just found your blog and am enjoying it. Thanks for the forthcoming Hammer Film focus in October!

Posted By John W. Morehead : September 14, 2010 9:22 pm

Great film and discussion. Just found your blog and am enjoying it. Thanks for the forthcoming Hammer Film focus in October!

Posted By bill : September 15, 2010 4:55 pm

Dennis is right, you guys. Just give it up!

No seriously, I really do agree with Dennis.

Posted By bill : September 15, 2010 4:55 pm

Dennis is right, you guys. Just give it up!

No seriously, I really do agree with Dennis.

Posted By jshipley : September 30, 2010 9:49 pm

Another great discussion. I had heard the spoiler and determined early I would never see this movie. Yes, I had read the story already (I believe in the great “Dark Forces?”). Interesting to note that I watched and enjoyed “The Descent” and had no recollection of ANY of that. Guess it didn’t bother me that much; not sure why not. But I came back to this blog because I saw a movie the other night that INFURIATED me as a parent — “The Pledge.” It was directed by Sean Penn and stars Jack Nicholson and is the worst kind of manipulative cinematic chicanery. I would have turned it off but was afraid of being left the the rancid taste in my mouth without a “happy” conclusion, which in some ways I got. Any other parents seen this? Any have a similar reaction? I’m curious.

Posted By jshipley : September 30, 2010 9:49 pm

Another great discussion. I had heard the spoiler and determined early I would never see this movie. Yes, I had read the story already (I believe in the great “Dark Forces?”). Interesting to note that I watched and enjoyed “The Descent” and had no recollection of ANY of that. Guess it didn’t bother me that much; not sure why not. But I came back to this blog because I saw a movie the other night that INFURIATED me as a parent — “The Pledge.” It was directed by Sean Penn and stars Jack Nicholson and is the worst kind of manipulative cinematic chicanery. I would have turned it off but was afraid of being left the the rancid taste in my mouth without a “happy” conclusion, which in some ways I got. Any other parents seen this? Any have a similar reaction? I’m curious.

Posted By Steven Hart : October 1, 2010 9:33 am

jshipley: My big problem with “The Pledge” as a movie was that I never really bought into the Nicholson character’s obsession, so his tumble into madness never added up to more than a collection of acting mannerisms. Nor could I believe that a cop so moved by the murder of one child would so callously put another child in harm’s way as bait for the killer.

Later on I read the novella, which was frankly written as an expression of contempt for the whole mystery/detective genre, which explained why the story was so unsatisfying, but still leaves me uncertain of why Sean Penn wanted to make it into a film.

The best moment in the film belonged to Mickey Rourke as the father of one of the murdered girls, still lost in grief years later. Hoo boy, did that scene hurt.

The extra-bleak ending of “The Descent” was from the uncut European release, which you might have missed. It has the same horrible integrity as the ending of the original version of “The Vanishing.”

Oddly enough, I think Darabont would have been better off using a variation of that ending. The father whispering “Hope” into his sleeping son’s ear, the car heading off into the mist, the engine sound fading as the world of ravening monsters gets louder and louder. The crummy CGI critters and other missteps had already pushed me away from the film, and the ending merely heightened my dislike.

“Dark Forces,” where “The Mist” made its debut, was a pretty hot anthology — not a dud in the bunch. If memory serves, the editor said he wanted to do a horror equivalent of Harlan Ellison’s “Dangerous Visions,” and I think he nailed it.

Posted By Steven Hart : October 1, 2010 9:33 am

jshipley: My big problem with “The Pledge” as a movie was that I never really bought into the Nicholson character’s obsession, so his tumble into madness never added up to more than a collection of acting mannerisms. Nor could I believe that a cop so moved by the murder of one child would so callously put another child in harm’s way as bait for the killer.

Later on I read the novella, which was frankly written as an expression of contempt for the whole mystery/detective genre, which explained why the story was so unsatisfying, but still leaves me uncertain of why Sean Penn wanted to make it into a film.

The best moment in the film belonged to Mickey Rourke as the father of one of the murdered girls, still lost in grief years later. Hoo boy, did that scene hurt.

The extra-bleak ending of “The Descent” was from the uncut European release, which you might have missed. It has the same horrible integrity as the ending of the original version of “The Vanishing.”

Oddly enough, I think Darabont would have been better off using a variation of that ending. The father whispering “Hope” into his sleeping son’s ear, the car heading off into the mist, the engine sound fading as the world of ravening monsters gets louder and louder. The crummy CGI critters and other missteps had already pushed me away from the film, and the ending merely heightened my dislike.

“Dark Forces,” where “The Mist” made its debut, was a pretty hot anthology — not a dud in the bunch. If memory serves, the editor said he wanted to do a horror equivalent of Harlan Ellison’s “Dangerous Visions,” and I think he nailed it.

Posted By mrchicken66 : October 19, 2010 4:58 pm

Steven: “Dark Forces” contained one of my all-time favorites, “Children of the Kingdom” by T.E.D Klein. I agree with you on Nicholson’s descent in “The Pledge.” Didn’t quite fit. I also have not seen “The Vanishing” because it’s one of those movies I have a feeling will really push a button. Right now I’m toying with whether I should watch “Martyrs” for the same reason. I read somewhere recently the greatest review of a movie ever; the guy who made “Let the Right One In” apparently said of “Martyrs,” “It’s a great movie; don’t see it.”

Posted By mrchicken66 : October 19, 2010 4:58 pm

Steven: “Dark Forces” contained one of my all-time favorites, “Children of the Kingdom” by T.E.D Klein. I agree with you on Nicholson’s descent in “The Pledge.” Didn’t quite fit. I also have not seen “The Vanishing” because it’s one of those movies I have a feeling will really push a button. Right now I’m toying with whether I should watch “Martyrs” for the same reason. I read somewhere recently the greatest review of a movie ever; the guy who made “Let the Right One In” apparently said of “Martyrs,” “It’s a great movie; don’t see it.”

Posted By jshipley : October 19, 2010 5:04 pm

Steven: “Dark Forces” contained one of my all-time favorites, “Children of the Kingdom” by T.E.D Klein. I agree with you on Nicholson’s descent in “The Pledge.” Didn’t quite fit. I also have not seen “The Vanishing” because it’s one of those movies I have a feeling will really push a button. Right now I’m toying with whether I should watch “Martyrs” for the same reason. I read somewhere recently the greatest review of a movie ever; the guy who made “Let the Right One In” apparently said of “Martyrs,” “It’s a great movie; don’t see it.”

Posted By jshipley : October 19, 2010 5:04 pm

Steven: “Dark Forces” contained one of my all-time favorites, “Children of the Kingdom” by T.E.D Klein. I agree with you on Nicholson’s descent in “The Pledge.” Didn’t quite fit. I also have not seen “The Vanishing” because it’s one of those movies I have a feeling will really push a button. Right now I’m toying with whether I should watch “Martyrs” for the same reason. I read somewhere recently the greatest review of a movie ever; the guy who made “Let the Right One In” apparently said of “Martyrs,” “It’s a great movie; don’t see it.”

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *

We regret to inform you that FilmStruck is now closed.  Our last day of service was November 29, 2018.

Please visit tcm.com/help for more information.

We would like to thank our many fans and loyal customers who supported us.  FilmStruck was truly a labor of love, and in a world with an abundance of entertainment options – THANK YOU for choosing us.