As a “fan” of Steven King there are some works of his I really, really enjoy, and one of them is his novella The Mist. When I originally found out that there was going to be a movie version directed by Frank Darabont who had handled other King stories extremely well, I was balls out excited.
And when I saw it? Man, the movie was exactly how I saw it in my head when I read the original story. It was faithful, and gory, and well acted, and then…. then… that ending. Oh damn it, that ending.
At the end of the Mist it suddenly turns into an ultra depressing episode of the Twilight Zone. You see, the main character David Drayton (played by Thomas Jane) runs out of gas. He along with the few other survivors decide its time to end it all, so they basically commit suicide with a pistol. Drayton kills his kid and runs out of bullets before he can off himself. Wanting to end his life, Drayton leaves his car to walk into the Mist which has proven itself to be a pretty effective meatgrinder for human beings. But instead of dying, all of a sudden there’s military dudes everywhere killing the creatures in the mist. Ohhhh noes!!!!! The hero killed his kid for nothing!
To Darabont’s credit, its a really ballsy way to end the movie, but any time you have such a horrible ending there’s going to be a lot of backlash. There seems to be two camps, those who love the ending and the many that detest it.
My biggest problem with the ending of The Mist is that the original already had a bleak ending. Darabont just made it much more in your face. I’d argue that the original ending of The Mist was more depressing. In Darabont’s version one man suffers, but there’s hope for humanity. In King’s version, Drayton may have lived to escape the grocery store, but it is up in the air whether or not there was any hope that the Mist itself had been contained for the rest of humanity.
While surfing cyberspace the other day, I ran across this video depicting the “original” ending of the mist. I believe more people might have enjoyed the movie more had it ended this way. Of course, I would have gone with a voice over narration, but the person who made the YouTube video didn’t have access to Jane’s voice. However, the way in which the camera pulls away to show you the Earth… damn that’s terrifying. (Please Note: In the original novella you actually didn’t know how far the Mist had spread, this fan edit added it, and it works really well.)
Aside from the question of which ending is more terrifying, there’s also the matter of whether or not it fits. This article goes on at length about how the ending feels disconnected from the rest of the film. The author makes a great argument that the hero doesn’t ever act desperate until the end. The hero’s actions are disconnected from the rest of the film. We watch a survivor for the duration of the film up until the very end when he suddenly decides to give it all up. It could be argued that makes the ending more dramatic, but suddenly having such a character switch is damned jarring. Sure people act out of character in real life all the time, but when watching a film its unsettling when a character turns in such a way.
So what do you say? Is the shocking twist ending better? Or the more low key and open ended ending of the novella?