WTF? We don’t have the foggiest...
It seems to be the season for adapting Stephen King but then going your own sweet way – and it’s questionable whether The Mist makes a better fist of it than The Dark Tower.
Initially, pacing’s the problem. After the town of Bridgeville is enveloped in a deadly mist, it looks like we’re set to see King’s 1980 novella stretched until it snaps, with the central family divided and the action cutting between different locations: principally a shopping mall and a church.
Then it gradually dawns that this adaptation is bonkers. Whereas King’s story (and Frank Darabont’s 2007 movie) posited that the mist was an intrusion of an otherdimensional ecosystem, here it drives people crazy and summons horrors from the human mind. This results in some memorable agents of death: killer leeches; a life-sucking zombie baby; the Four Horsemen. But when anything can happen, it can feel like there’s no terra firma. And much of the characterisation is equally wild – as the situation goes south it can be hard to tell whether it’s down to the mist’s influence or not.
At times, you may wonder if the writers have been toking on the mist. This is a series that repeatedly plays with sensitive subject matter – homophobia, mental illness, incest. One central mystery boils down to a game of “guess the rapist”. Good taste is not something we expect from horror – we’d rather see it poking its dirty fingers into raw wounds. But The Mist can feel uneasily exploitative. One character revelation in particular could be viewed as endorsing the worst kind of stereotype.
Still… relax into it and The Mist becomes a guilty pleasure. What horrific behaviour will we witness this week? What will be the next melodramatic bombshell? Will they top the killer leeches? And it does boast one triumph in Mrs Raven, self-appointed messenger of a nature red in tooth and claw, who justifies unspeakable acts with phrases like, “When a gazelle is injured, the herd moves on.” Frances Conroy’s chillingly understated performance provides this warped, sleazy show’s one touch of genuine class. Ian Berriman