I haven’t seen Frank Darabont’s movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist in a good number of years (all I remember is The Sherminator from American Pie was in it) and I’ve never read the book so when I saw The Mist on my Netflix feed, I thought I might as well give it a go. It seemed like an idea that could be creepy and atmospheric. The kind of scare that lingers long after the show has finished and as the whole series was up, it would be something good to binge on for a couple of days.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
After the opening scene, in which we see a dog dismembered by the mist, I thought I might be in for a Silent Hill-style treat, but after this came clean, shiny America where the scariest thing was how one-dimensional characters can actually be. We had Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) an uptight teacher being suspended because she was too forward with her sex education lessons. Kevin (Morgan Spector), her husband who was aiming for ‘Cool Dad of the Year’ award. Eve (Gus Birney), their daughter, who wanted to enjoy life but was stopped by her repressive mother and then Adrian (Russel Posner), Eve’s gay best friend who wore make up and who’s Dad hated him becacuse he was different. It wasn’t all the strong and just got worse with Jay (Luke Cosgrove) who was the tall, handsome high school quarter back that Eve was in to. The scariest thing about this town so far was the sheer amount of cliche.
The rest of the characters were equally one dimensional and boring, loaded with stereotypes and forced character traits. It also felt like nobody ever seemed to really grow or learn anything. Kevin wanted to find his daughter and everyone else was out for themselves, riding on his desperation. The only real development came in the guise of Nathalie Raven (Frances Conroy) who went from grieivng widow to batshit crazy, murderous zealot in two episodes and Adrian who’s issues I would struggle to describe in a short review but never seemed real. He was the embodiment of a My Chemical Romance video.
The horror element of the series was a huge let down. There were some jump scares and some bad CGI gore, but there was no suspense or tension in the mist. It just sat there doing nothing when the mist should have been a character in itself. There was no experimentation with sound design and the mist was a victim of bad CGI. The show could have really played on the ideas of claustrophobia and isolation, but it didn’t. The interiors were all huge, allowing characters to constantly escape from one another.
There were a couple of good scenes, mostly when characters were alone and facing their demons. In these scenes, tension was built in classic horror style. The music built slowly and time seemed to slow down. Fears were explored more creatively through hallucination, allowing us to look into these characters minds. Unfortunately, a three minute scene in a series where I haven’t cared about anyone isn’t enough and as soon as these characters snapped out of their hypnotic states, it was business as usual. Nobody seemed to grow as a result of their encounters with the mist.
By the seventh episode, I was willing the series to be over. I kept expecting something to happen, but nothing interesting ever did. The last episode wrapped everything up quite neatly and confirmed many of the suspcions I’d held from the second episode. The only interesting idea came in the very last shot, but the show has now been cancelled so I guess I’ll just play Resident Evil again, which probably has a better plot and the same level of acting.
The Mist though, however bad it may have been, did something absolutely unforgivable. In the first episode, Dad of the Year, Kevin, actively encourages Alex to defy her mother’s wishes and tells her to go to a party asking her only not to drink any alcohol. Alex goes to the party with Adrian who is physically assaulted for being gay. After this, the no drinking rule goes straight out the window and within five minutes of arriving at the party, Alex is breaking the only rule she was given.
Cut to the next day and in what should be a life-changing moment, Alex has been raped. The issue is, this only seems to sit with her for a matter of hours and then she’s over it. The whole rape storyline feels absolutely pointless. After a scene where Alex is crying, she’s kind of done with it all and Eve seems more upset about the whole thing. It posed a huge problem for me. Teen rape should not be used as a device to speed the plot along and the consequences should be dealt with properly and they simply weren’t in The Mist.
For me, it was a series with far too many problems. Bad plot, bad acting, bad script, bad CGI, bad pacing and with virtually zero tension. It’s completely justified that the second series has been canned and hopefully it can fade away into oscurity, never to be seen again.