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The Mist (Darabont, 2007)

I have to admit that I'm always going to look at horror films through a clouded (foggy? misty?) lens. I enjoy the occasional horror flick, but I'm by no means a fan in the way most horror fans are. I get the horror of a film is, at its root, the payoff. It rarely is for me, but I do get it. As such, The Mist is one of those films that forces me to evaluate my discomfort and admit to myself (or not) that it did its job and I should be satisfied.

All the conditions are here. A group of survivors stranded in a grocery store. A mysterious fog overtaking the entire town (and possibly beyond). An equally mysterious threat within the mist, rarely seen but always present. I like films like this. I like the abrupt nature of it: that our heroes are tiny specks flung at the feet of a gargantuan problem, and that there a thousand questions with no hope for answers. But inevitably, a setup like this must become a human nature study, and therein lies the danger of falling into unbelievability... particularly with a guy like Stephen King at the pen.

Expect to be annoyed by Marcia Gay Harden's character, and every direction the story takes her in. Her soothsaying role is ill-fitting and really seems to come out of nowhere, or at least seems to come directly from the writer's hand. I do think there's some value in considering how a cultist group might emerge as a microcosm for the way our many faiths have grown and festered over the existence of humanity. But not here. Here, I think the characters are owed a little more realism, especially when we're expected to share this one location - this one ordeal - with them.

I'm also torn by the ending. I researched the source material and found that ending to be obviously much brighter; I think I would have preferred that it be retained. As it stands, the horror of the finale is - for me at least - no great resolution. Perhaps that's the point, and perhaps I ought to be lauding the film for its balls to dabble in tragedy. But because the film is so centralized on one specific group in one specific place, with only an inkling of explanation for why all this is happening and what's in store for the Earth, I can't see how the end resonates except on some visceral level.

And maybe that's all horror fans ever want.