A Review of Stephen King’s The Mist

The Mist (1980) is a novella set in Bridgton, a small town in Maine. Following a violent storm that breaks a stifling heat wave the town becomes enveloped in a thick and mysterious mist. Set in the local grocery store, a group of residents and tourists try to make sense of the strange situation they find themselves in as it becomes clear that the mist is home to a plethora of dangerous, otherworldly creatures.

The protagonist is David Drayton, a local artist whose central concerns are the protection of his son and to be reunited with his wife. David is, in my opinion, neither likable nor unlikable  His care for his family is certainly believable, and his ability to remain rational amid chaos is admirable. However, his participation in an unnecessary sex scene lowers the credibility of this character. Nonetheless, the story is focalised interestingly and successfully through him.

What is most eerie about this novella is not the mist or its contents, but the portrayal of how a group of people react to a terrifying situation in an enclosed space. The divisions, reactions and collaboration between members of the community as the story develops is fascinating and reminiscent of similar situations illustrated in other King novels like The Shining, The Stand and Under the Dome. The Mist gains its tension and horror from this. Religious fundamentalism, destructive attempts at logic, leadership, and mob mentality all come into play. Dichotomous threads of primitive regression and survivalist evolution lead the way into clashes, resolutions and ambiguities.

Overall, this novella is an intense read. Although the story is immersed in science fiction horror, the real apocalyptic chill comes from humanity and our (in)capabilities when faced with our own mortality. The Mist provides a case study for our potential for both self-destruction and self-preservation when we are no longer the hunter, but the hunted.

A film adaptation of the same name was released in 2007. Directed by Frank Darabont, the film stays very close to the original plot, with only the ending altered.

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This entry was posted by americasstudies on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 5:57 pm and is filed under America, book review . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Comments

  1. Rory says:

    I hated the changed ending in the film. I felt it was unnecessary and beyond what a parent would do (I don’t really I know that, but I imagine). I preferred the novella’s ending by far. I agree that the scariest part was the way people reacted and I can see it happening that way – especially given the current political and religious climate in America.

    • Americas Studies says:

      Yes, the film ending was quite brutal, a bit far-fetched. Have you read Under the Dome? There’s a similar study of how people react and regroup under stressful and confined situations in it.

  2. […] has long been copperfastened by his success with The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist. Each film remained loyal to King’s original vision and imagination. Needless to say, he is […]

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