“The Mist”.

We did not drive to the coast yesterday — both Vincent & Lance had colds, so we went out for breakfast at Foxtowne Diner and walked to the playground in the morning, and had a quiet and restful afternoon. My idea of a good day.

Which I needed, because I woke up in a foul mood: on Saturday night, Lance & I watched “The Mist” on DVD, based on the novella by Stephen King. I don’t watch scary movies, because they’re scary movies, they give me nightmares, but Lance didn’t want to watch it alone. So I watched it with him (“Honey, could you turn that light out?” “NO.”). And as scary movies go, it was pretty damn good. Most horror flicks these days are just exercises in masochism & blood, but this was very character-driven. Which is why the ending is so awful. Not merely shocking, but wrong wrong wrong.

If you haven’t seen it, and don’t want to know the end, don’t read further, because the movie’s conclusion is different from the one for the novella, which leaves the characters driving through the mist, not sure where or if the mist ends. In the movie, after you’ve watched all the struggles & deaths of some great characters (how could they kill you, Ollie, o the injustice!) 5 characters make it to the Land Rover and drive off: the main character, his young son, a blonde school teacher, an older teacher played Frances Steenburgen, and an older man. They drive through scene after scene of wreckage until the gas runs out. This is where things go awry.

Now Lance tells me the following scene is an homage to a scene from the docudrama, “The Night that Panicked America,” which is about the airing of Orson Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.” He says that part of that film focuses on a family’s reaction as they listen to the program on the radio: a father, mother, young son, and the grandparents, in a panic, flee their apartment by car. Driving down a tunnel, a firetruck approaches from the opposite direction. The father’s panicking, mistaking the firetruck for aliens, and he holds a gun in his hand — contemplates killing his family rather then letting them fall into the hands of aliens. Before he can do anything, the firetruck overtakes them, and tells them to go home, for crying out loud, this is a tunnel, what’re they doing, get out of the way. Chastened, they return home feeling foolish, but safe.

Back to “The Mist”: the father, child, woman, & older couple sit in the Land Rover surrounded by mist, out of gas, and hear ominous sounds approaching. By now we’ve seen all the awful creatures in the mist, so yes, we, the audience, are aware that they are in grave danger, stranded like that. But it’s been 2 hours, they’ve fought like hell to get that far, so when the father looks at the gun in his hand and counts how many bullets are left (“Four.” “But there are five of us.”), I don’t really believe he’ll do something so daft, especially to his sweet little boy. But the next scene pulls back to an external shot of the Land Rover — the interior flashes, four shots. Then back to the father, who howls into the steering wheel, then gets out of the car to call to the monsters to come and get him.

Instead, the cavalry arrives: the army, row upon row of tanks and soldiers with torches, and they push back the mist. The father sinks to his knees in horror. Roll credits.

Monsters didn’t keep me from sleeping that night, but outrage. And Lance, who made me watch the film in the first place, says, “But it’s only a movie.” Which is so breathtakingly beside the point.

I think this will all tie into poetry, or at least writing:

Maybe the filmmakers were going for an ironic ending, but it’s a cheap shot, and completely unfair. Let’s face it, a horror flick is not where you go for verisimilitude, and the least you should get for your time and high blood pressure is a hopeful ending. Redemption. Genre films should not be trying to buck convention, they’re all about convention. If I want bleakness and despair, I’ll watch an independent film.

That said, I’d accept the depressing nature of “The Mist”‘s conclusion if it seemed earned, but it’s all wrong for the characters as they’ve been portrayed throughout the film, the people we the audience have come to know and root for. They’d keep fighting!

Here it is: the conclusion of any piece of art is only believable, true, if it’s been earned. I tend to rush early drafts of my poems to the end, I’m good at endings. But then I have to go back and work to make those endings right and satisfying. Otherwise I’m left with some good lines, but a bad poem. The people behind “The Mist” worked to create a really compelling film, and ruined it with a “shocking” ending. This is one of those times I’d actually appreciate an alternate ending in the extras bit on DVD!

Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

*

On another topic entirely: Lance questions me every day whether I’ve posted the news yet here, and when I intend to, so I guess I’ll go ahead, seeing as he’s told everyone and their grandmothers since we found out:

Yes, I’m pregnant, due on Christmas day (poor baby), which makes me 7 weeks along. I will make every attempt to not regale you with pregnancy tales. Unless you ask. I will only say now that, as with Vincent, so far everything’s great, no morning sickness, just fatigue and ravenous, I-could-eat-my-desk, hunger. After our initial surprise, we’re very happy — I’m one of 6, and always wanted Vincent to have a sibling closer in age (his half-brothers are 20+ yrs older).  We weren’t exactly planning for one soon, but we’re excited nonetheless. Vincent is always sweet with babies, so hopefully he’ll be happy too when the new baby comes home, and not rage against being knocked from his only-child-prince’s perch. Good times.

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13 thoughts on ““The Mist”.

  1. A friend convinced me to go see this movie… When I realized what had happened in the car, I got up and walked out of the theater. My friend told me what happened afterwards, which just pissed me off more.

    I hated that movie.

  2. Congratulations! I thought you hinted at the news in an earlier post … tickled to know I was right. There are several near-Christmas birthdays in our family, and from the start we’ve all bent over backwards to make sure that there is a clear separation between Chirstmas and birthday. So far, it’s worked wonderfully.

    Ann

  3. You’re exactly right about this movie. It’s a way of looking at endings I’ve heard articulated before, but I’ve never heard such a good example of it as this one.

    And many congratulations, Marie. My mother’s birthday is Christmas Eve and she’s always behaved as though the whole thing was planned to celebrate her day.

  4. Michael, you’re my hero — I’ve never walked out of a movie theater.

    Ann, thank you, yes, I was hinting, smart you!

    Lily, that sounds exactly like the sort of woman who would be your mother! Thank you.

  5. Congratulations! My sister was born 2 days after Christmas, and she’s kept most of her sanity over the years. 🙂

  6. Marie!!!!! Congratulations. Vincent will LOVE a sibling (except for the times when he wont). Joshua (my grandson) who is 5 and his little sister Jessica, 2 3/4’s adore each other….in spite of the fact that he tortures her constantly…(splashes the wading pool water in her face, jumps over her and sometimes ON her, accidently drops things on her etc.

    have fun!

    Pat

  7. anytime :)!

    not to worry…all Josh’s attention doesn’t faze Jessica at all… she’s a feisty little spirit (perhaps even because of it). You will all enjoy each other.

    pat

  8. AH! Here it is! Congratulations!!!! I’m so excited for you!!! And my grandfather was born on Christmas day. I myself was born on my parents’ fourth anniversary, and I think it’s good luck to be born on big days. 🙂

  9. I trust you, Pat — I’m sure, ultimately, you’re completely right!

    Emma! Thank you! — we are slightly terrified to be disturbing the family balance, but also excited, yes, very excited — and I’ll take whatever luck I can get!

  10. Firstly: CONGRATULATIONS! This is most fabulous news! Hooray!

    Secondly: I concur inre the ending of “The Mist.” I watched it on DVD a few weekends ago and was incredibly angry as well. It was the same type of anger I felt after watching “The Village” — I felt incredibly cheated at the end of that particular movie, as if I’d been the victim of a particularly cruel practical joke. There was absolutely no way the ending to “The Mist” was earned, either. Yes, I’m getting angry again just thinking about it, so I shall get back to work now.

    Thirdly: CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN!!!

  11. Firstly: Thank you, Zelda!

    Secondly: How absolutely wonderful of you to visit!

    Thirdly: I know! Every time I think about that Ending my blood boils anew… I told Lance, I’d really like to find that director & punch him in the nose. Seriously.

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