Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Mist (2007) [Biblical Horror]

Directed by Frank Darabont
Writing Credits (WGA)  Frank Darabont (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)

Recently I was listening to the latest episode of the great podcast Faculty of Horror, which takes a scholarly approach to Horror. The subject was Frank Darabont’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Mist. The hosts pointed out that it is easy to dislike Mrs. Carmody, superbly played by Marcia Gay Harden, for her self righteous, religious zealotry, but she remains consistently right. All her predictions come true, including the ones about blood sacrifices.  This is a great example of the rare movie that asks, “What if the God of the Old Testament were to re-emerge today?” I decided to watch the film again and pay more attention to see if she really was an Old Testament style prophet.

The Mist concerns a group of people trapped inside a supermarket in a New England town by a thick mist that hides many unseen, other worldly terrors. As the survivors attempt to cope with their new reality, they become a microcosm of contemporary society. (Faculty of Horror co hosts Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West discuss what the definition of microcosm and its purpose in the episode. Give it a listen, the show link is at the bottom.)

Early on, as the survivors close the doors of the store and start to wonder what to do next, Mrs Carmody separates herself from the group with her off-putting behavior and doom and gloom declarations about the End of Days. No-one wants to hear that this the last chance for sinners to repent to the angry God who has decided to demand blood sacrifices.

I once heard Stephan King interviewed on NPR (but cannot find the actual audio) talk about to him, the most frightening thing in life is a group of citizens. This is illustrated many times in his works like Storm of the Century, and Under the Dome and The Mist.

Turns out this is not the first time I have written about The Mist
What is the job of a prophet? No one likes prophets because their job is to upset the status quo. They people that they are living outside of God’s Will and judgement will follow. Most of the new tribe in the supermarket initially recoils in horror at Mrs. Carmody’s condemnation of them, But time and time again, her prophecies/predictions come true! In many ways, she is not unlike Moses, who God used to bend Pharaoh’s will to release the Israelites from bondage and then delivered them to the Holy Land.

A quick Google search brought me to “The Role of the Prophets” on the Stumbling Through Theology blog, which defined the role of a prophet as speaker for God, miracle-worker, intercessor, leader and judge.

Mrs. Carmody does all these things. She speaks often and loudly about appeasing God as a means of salvation by blood sacrifice, and she predicts the ending of the movie by citing God’s testing Abraham’s faith (Genesis 22, 1-14), she faces down one of the monsters and is spared, she prays, quite eloquently, for the salvation of the trapped survivors. Significantly, she doesn’t pray for their delivery from the present peril, she prays for their souls that they may not spend eternity “swimming in a lake of fire.”

Mrs. Carmody quickly goes from being a pariah and lunatic to leader of her own cult of followers. Her obsession with sacrificing David Drayton’s son causes Drayton, played by Thomas Jane, to attempt to lead a group, now a minority, into the mist.

To say more about how these elements come together might spoil one of the greatest and thrilling finales in the Horror Genre. The scenes where the Tribe of the Supermarket come together to fight the monsters outside are nail biting-intense. But the finale, where the tribe tears itself apart and its aftermath can leave the viewers utterly drained.

1 comment:

Kit said...

Hey, Michael! I loved your analysis of The Mist. Viewing Mrs. Carmody as the archetypal “Prophet” certainly seems like it would deepen one’s enjoyment of the film. Patterns can be so much fun to find in movies. We’ll have to watch it sometime so that I can see you analysis in action.