Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Mist (2007) [Biblical Horror]

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

Frank Darabont’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Mist is a great example of the rare movie that asks, “What if the God of the Old Testament were to re-emerge today?” Shortly after it begins, a terrible calamity befalls a small New England town and a group of local citizens and “summer people” find themselves struggling for survival inside the supermarket that is trapped inside an other worldly mist.
In the novella, artist David Drayton and his family observe the mist approaching like a wall. This mist is the physical border between the familiar and the abject worlds - between the known and safe and that place where everything is alien and there are no boundaries. In a state of abjection, the known and conventional are cast off for unknown and unimaginable. Lunatics speak in the voice of reason and men flee the company of their fellows because the perils outside are safer than their present company. 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. At first, no-one wants to hear that this the last chance for sinners to repent to the angry God who demands expiation through blood sacrifice. Initially she is viewed by others as a religious crackpot but that changes as events unfold and she appears to know things the others do not.

Turns out this is not the first time I have written about The Mist
By definition, prophets are unpopular because their job is to upset the status quo. They challenge people, including rulers,  that are living outside of God’s Will, and threaten that God’s judgement will follow unless there is change. Most of the new tribe in the supermarket initially recoils in horror at Mrs. Carmody’s prophecies and condemnations. But time and time again, her prophecies/predictions come true.

Is Mrs. Carmody a prophet? Is she God's chosen voice in the supermarket to lead the faithful from the world of the abject to the world of sanity?  A quick Google search brought me to “The Role of the Prophets” on the Stumbling Through Theology blog, which defines the role of a prophet as speaker for God, miracle-worker, intercessor, leader and judge.

Mrs. Carmody speaks often and loudly about appeasing God and she promises salvation only in unquestioning obedience to God’s will. She performs a miracle by facing down one of the monsters in the mist and escaping unscathed. As an intercessor,  she prays eloquently  for the deliverance of the trapped survivors. Significantly, it is not safety she asks for but that their souls may not spend eternity “swimming in a lake of fire.”

Stephan King once said that the most frightening thing he can imagine is a group of citizens coming together and deciding what is best for everyone else.This is a common theme in many of King’s works, particularly Storm of the Century, Under the Dome and The Mist. As Mrs. Carmody’s predictions come true, her standing in the group grows and she transfers from a pariah and lunatic to leader and judge of her own cult of followers. They declare her a prophet and side with her when she begins to demand David Drayton sacrifice his son.

Knowing the time is limited before the group takes his son by force, Drayton, played by Thomas Jane, to attempts to lead a small group into the mist. Their attempt to leave quietly is met with violence and Mrs. Carmody is killed by Ollie, who himself pays for killing God’s Prophet with his own life shortly thereafter. As the survivors from the supermarket travel into the mist, Mrs. Carmody’s final prophecies come true.

In Frank Darabont’s version of The Mist, the most frightening thing in the universe is not the fickle behavior of the humans inside or the terrifying, supernatural monsters outside.  It is the God that created and holds sway over all that is the ultimate terror. He is all powerful and His ways are mysterious and deadly to those who fail to find favor with Him. The scenes where the Tribe of the Supermarket come together to fight the monsters are nail biting-intense. But the finale, where the tribe tears itself apart and its horrifying aftermath will leave 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.