What Should We Expect From Spike TV’s THE MIST?

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The Mist Creature

SHOCK considers what’s in store for fans with the small screen adaptation of Stephen King’s THE MIST.

Stephen King’s original 1980 novella THE MIST was one of the most disturbing and emotionally affecting works in the writer’s entire repertoire. When it was adapted into the 2007 film by Frank Darabont, the director nailed the tone, the dread and paranoia of the source perfectly, along with the brand of working-class heroism that Stephen King is known for and that so many filmmakers who tackle his stories fail to accurately capture.

Of course, there was that ending…

That controversial, horrible ending…

Personally, this writer hated that ending. Sorry if you didn’t.

If you haven’t seen THE MIST, there are spoilers below.

I know this argument is old hat at this point, but really, if you were a fan of King’s tale or even if you loved the movie up until that climactic point, I challenge that there is no way that that the character of that father as written or personified by actor Thomas Jane, being of sound mind throughout the story, even at the worst of times, would have given up and opted to murder his child in an effort to “protect” him  and then cowardly not kill himself.

And even worse than that nihilistic ending was the tidy way in which the film was wrapped up! In the novella, as those of you know who have read it, it is open ended; an Elder God-esque monster walks over our protagonist’s car and we know that the mist will continue as they drive off into the unknown.

Which actually makes the idea of a longform TV show adaptation not a bad one at all.  It would be a clear continuation of the novella, a mea culpa for the cop-out finale of the movie. Indeed, as was widely reported yesterday, Spike TV ordered 10 episodes of TWC-Dimension Television’s THE MIST series, based on the strength of the pilot alone. So it’s coming, whether we want it to or not.

And really, why wouldn’t we want it?

The idea of heroes trapped inside a shadowy netherworld full of unspeakable monsters is appealing, both dramatically and aesthetically. Of course, one would expect that a similar dynamic to THE WALKING DEAD would evolve (ironic, considering Darabont was instrumental in getting that show off the ground too, with many key TWD cast members appearing in THE MIST), wherein our protagonists would  battle not only strange, otherworldy creatures but a rogues gallery of hustlers, drifters and miscreants as they progress on their journey into fear.

And presumably, those massive insect like monsters would be considerably more vulnerable and visible than they were in either the book or film, thus ensuring ample freakish carnage in every episode.

I’ve seen some pundits balk, saying that there’s too much horror on television right now and I find that an odd argument. The things that we used to dream about as kids, the horror that my generation searched for and saved for and argued with mom and dad about is now commonplace; horror is not the fringe, it’s the mainstream.  And that’s not a bad thing. Because, like it or not, shows like THE WALKING DEAD and its sister program, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, or PENNY DREADFUL or AMERICAN HORROR STORY are horror entertainments that are as stylish, intelligent and emotional as they are outrageously gory and imaginative and even a bit dangerous. These shows offer horror entertainment with the darkest of themes; their hard edges have not been ironed out, much to audiences delight and it seems as if the public wants more and more blood. This lust for the lurid in our living rooms is no doubt a reflection of the times in which we live. In these media-saturated days, where we are exposed to such endless atrocity in the real world at all times, coming at us from a myriad screens and sources, a simple fantasy tied up with a tidy ending will not do. That’s not life. Life is dark. Life is cruel. Life giveth, but it taketh away far more. We’re not as naive a culture as we once were…

But I digress…

The bottom line is that what is perhaps Stephen King’s finest work is being adapted into a television show. And I think that’s a good thing. Considering Stephen King by his own account is a “putter inner”, his work needs a long leash in order which to develop his characters and themes effectively, something that rarely happens when he’s crushed into feature length.

What do you think? Are you optimistic about THE MIST?