“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread” – Bilbo Baggins.
Like Bilbo’s quote, The Mist‘s simple yet horrific story has been stretched thinly into a tv show. Sometimes, more is less, and the possibility of several seasons of this seem like more of a hell than the mist itself. So far, so disappointing.
After a long gap in reading, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower finally pulled me back in. Though I have not yet read The Mist novella, I am currently working my way through his major works, primarily those like The Mist that connect to his Dark Tower multiverse.
After each book I tick off the list, I am likely going to revisit or watch each movie or tv show, whether I have seen them yet or not. With the latest Dark Tower trailer dropping several reference to The Shining, 1408, Cristine, Cujo, It and The Shawshank Redemption, my interest has peaked, even if the film looks like a generico slow-mo sci-fi extravaganza. For better or worse, I am working through the Under The Dome series, having not yet read the book (it, in its large volume, is waiting on my shelf for me to finish Cell). The mystery is driving me through while the writing, often leading to Lost-esque resolution-less cliff-hangers, and acting, often beggaring cringeworthy belief, is stopping me from going on a usual several-episode-a-night binge session with a bag of Doritos and bottle of Cherry Pepsi Max. So many shows, so many heart palpitations.
Though The Mist movie twisted the ending, the film remains shocking and compelling as ever, with monsters of Lovecraft proportions from the todash darkness ripping people apart. Of course, then, I was excited about the release of the 2017 tv series. This excitement was massively misplaced. Take Todash monsters of the mist and replace them with bugs. Just bugs. Add a Lost shadow monster in for good measure. Spiders. Leeches. Moths. So far, little of monsters we expected have been even hinted at onscreen, instead an insect-based karma system seems to be in place. Though I’m not yet sure how much of a psychological presence the mist holds in the books, I understand that groupthink plays a heavy part. Groupthink, paranoia and unimaginable monsters. In the television show, we witness a few crazed people seeing their late loved ones in the mist, and otherwise, a host of creepy crawlies that seem a little on the lazy side anyway. Perhaps they know the show sucks. At the halfway point, it’s essentially A Bug’s Life out there. Scary factor – zero.
Characters spend so much time meandering in the mist it is painful, but after five episodes there is almost little for them to fear. Writing and character, even by television standards, annoying as all hell, and that’s becoming less normal in a landscape of Breaking Bads, Game of Thrones, Preachers and Sherlocks. Within presumably a short amount of time, in the apparent safety of a shopping mall and with little-to-no-knowledge of the current predicament, characters start forming groups, deciding on banishing people into the mist, and making generally ridiculous decisions to unnaturally push the groupthink angle too early on. The initial character reactions to what seems like the end times are ridiculous, all morals thrown out of the window as the show manages to draw out long, dull as dishwater back stories in an effort to push back any expensive scenes of horror. I’m all for character development, and a short novella wherein people survive in a handful of locations needs character for certain.
Any thrills, chills or gory moments one might rightly expect from a rip reality that spews out horrific monstrosities are put into the back seat for a date rape story, for example. This is a subplot so cheaply overused in tv now, surely it is detracting from the harsh reality of similar, true crimes? Nonetheless, a failing marriage, angry closet jocks and drug-addiction take the limelight, with the most part of the show being taken up by characters talking and thinking about, and remembering these personal problems. Survival appears to be low on the agenda, and the clear lack of monsters AND a lack of scenes, hints or dialogue surrounding The Arrowhead Project, those at fault for the misty apocalypse, means that for the most part, you are watching a show about interventions with a few killer bug scenes punctuating poor storytelling.
I’m rooting for the mist and its inhabitants at this point. Currently, I’m just waiting for the next dumb shmuck to be turned into a meaty morsel for the next ladybird or killer slug. Yes, there was a brief moment where man and moth became one (mothman, manmoth?) and not quite as successfully as David Brundell’s mutation in The Fly, but that’s only one scene so far that has been even remotely horrific. The rest point towards a low-ish budget, which really detracts from a story like King’s.
I will continue watching regardless, as it is King and it is connected to The Dark Tower. However, for those with less investment, I would suggest revisiting the Frank Darabont’s adaptation or, better, yet, checking out and watching Stranger Things if you haven’t already. A lot of influence has been taken from King’s work there, from the font, to a group of child protagonists fighting a supernatural presence as with Pennywise of IT, and a top-secret organisation and project that unwittingly unleashes a supernatural, otherworldly horror onto a small town similar to The Mist. As for this show, it might be worth waiting reviews on the full season and finding out whether it picks up in terms of horror and character or not. With Rick and Morty, Preacher, Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Orzak currently out, why waste your free time?
The Film Fanatic