I didn’t think I would have anything to write about today, and so, The Mist.
deals with emotions and situations that are key to my own interests: people being in situations they have little control over and being forced to heroism or despotism, making choices where there are no good choices (See the beginning of 28 Weeks Later).
Everything was good until the end where the writer changed everything in the story, apparently for shock value. Or maybe because the world is cynical now, and [If you haven’t guessed by now, spoilers ahead] King’s bit of hope he ends many stories with just won’t cut it with Saw and it’s spawn running amok. So, what happens? The hero kills everyone he escapes with because they’ve run out of gas and don’t want the monsters to eat them. This includes: his son, a woman he clearly had the hots for and returned the favor, an old(er) man, and an old(er) woman.
It goes so well, then, ten minutes before the end, bursts from King’s story into the never-never land of the writer Frank Darabont (also the director, so he shoulders the blame twice) and instead of leaving the story with the main hero and other survivors indeterminant, waiting for possible rescue or the completion of the end of the world, the hero kills everyone else, has no more bullets (hence his lack of suicide) then, not more than two minutes later, the mist clears and a column of American troops rolls by destroying the infestation. Not only does this destroy the moral compass of the film, since suddenly all of the hero’s decisions seem to be proven wrong, but it also–through lazy, writerly coincidence–leaves us with tragedy, a tragedy that would never have happened since the actions of the hero and fellow survivors goes against everything they have done throughout the film. Forget King’s novella and how it ends.
Darabont ignores the careful characterization he’s laid down for each character in order to cheaply wrench the audience into sympathy for the character they’ve been behind the entire time until he decided to kill everyone, including his son, with no present danger to contend with. His decision is not mitigated or made okay with the agreement of everyone in the car as to his plan, through subtle nods, etc., since that makes no sense for them either. They risk death and worse than death to escape and, because they run out of gas, give up rather than wait, or search their surroundings? Not likely.
Also, already stated as unlikely, as damn near impossible, the arrival of the army directly after he shoots everyone in the car. Not only that, but the army appears to be heading the wrong way in those final shots, away from the source of the infestation rather than towards it. This is not a film with magic realist elements, where the world conforms to the emotions or ideas of the characters (unlike, somewhat, in White), so that sudden arrival of military force is purely for dramatic purposes. It erases nearly everything good that happened over the course of the movie, since it was all aimed towards such a tacky and melodramatic ending.