Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Walking Dead Politics and Lovecraftian Monsters in Frank Darabont’s The Mist

Frank Darabont has proven to be one of the best adaptor’s of Stephen King’s works with his back-to-back films The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999).  He collaborated with Stephen King one last time before bringing The Walking Dead to the small screen with The Mist (2007), which contains familiar faces and explores similar themes.
The movie is both an affectionate homage and a modernization of the classic 50’s horror movies and the genre in general, opening with in an artist’s studio crammed full of Drew Struzan’s illustrations, including The Thing and The Dark Tower.  You may not know that name but you’ve seen his posters your whole life, from Blade Runner and ET to Indiana Jones and Harry Potter.  Thomas Jane plays David Drayton, the artist in that studio who has to go into town with his son after a storm to pick up supplies.
The movie is set in Stephen King’s beloved Maine, with a WZON reference (Stephen King’s radio station) and a really quick premise established; there’s no cell phone service and a secret military base down the road.  That’s really all the viewer needs to know to get the story rolling before Jeffrey DeMunn, who you know and love as Dale from The Walking Dead runs into a supermarket with a bloody nose yelling “there’s something in the mist!”
Civil services collapse quickly and with the group in the supermarket cut off, the lack of information quickly turns into paranoia.  Laurie Holden, who you loved and hated as Andrea, is one of those unlucky shoppers (I miss those days when my only complaint with The Walking Dead was her hooking up with the Governor).  And resident Walking Dead badass Melissa McBride appears with same haircut but no gray hair.  She’s one of the first to vanish into the mist, leaving Thomas Jane and Laurie Holden to somehow keep the group safe.
Society breaks down on class lines in the supermarket with white collar vs. blue collar, locals vs tourists, white collar vs blue and of course, religion vs. science.   Rule by committee is attempted but quickly breaks down in the face of an unexplainable threat.  A familiar theme emerges, as dangerous as the monsters in the mist appear they’ve got nothing compared to the way humans form groups and tear each other apart. 
The movie works better than The Walking Dead because it’s a smaller universe and a shorter time line.  All the viewer has to follow is this one group in the supermarket and their survival through the night.  But I don’t know if it’s fair to compare a movie to a TV series, it’s like comparing apples to an apple pie factory.  The Walking Dead takes this supermarket scenario and presents infinite variations of it at Dale’s Farm, in the jail, at Terminus, and Alexandria and beyond, with no clear ending in sight.  The Mist gives you a proper storyline and an emotionally satisfying ending because it only has 2 hours to tell a story.
The tentacled Lovecraftian monsters in the mist were designed by Greg Nicotero, Walking Dead director and makeup designer on basically every movie you’ve seen (seriously, check out his IMDB).

my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.