The Mist And The Shawshank Redemption Are Two Very Different Films About The Importance Of Hope

Hope and decency and several good people die in Darabont’s “The Mist.” Made 12 years after “The Shawshank Redemption,” this nihilistic adaptation of King’s 1980 novella strands the audience in a pressure cooker of a grocery store where people are stocking up in the wake of a massive thunderstorm. When an ominously dense fog envelops their small Maine town, one that appears to mask an invading extraterrestrial force, the trapped customers project their own fears and hatreds onto the external threat and, eventually, each other. While our protagonist, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), cautions calm, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a deluded evangelical Christian, foments irrational discord. She crosses several lines of civility in frighteningly rapid succession, finally convincing a frightened, ignorant portion of the shoppers to consider human sacrifice. 

In 2007, such madness was a worst-case scenario sparked by the Bush administration’s eschewal of the “reality-based community.” That scenario is now our reality. The U.S. is currently a splintered country where a major political party panders to and promotes wackos who believe, among other stupid things, their political opponents are pedophiles who harvest an adrenochrome narcotic from tortured children. While Mrs. Carmody might’ve been fringe in 2007, she has a kindred, kooky spirit in Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor-Greene in 2022. In such a climate, where a grocery store like the one in “The Mist” could get shot up by a racist in clear, fog-less daylight, Darabont’s film feels unnecessarily metaphorical. The monsters are here, and they are us.

As once-normal people take complete leave of their senses, those who’ve managed to keep their feet planted on “reality-based” terra firma might want to simply give up and escape. This is what David decides to do in the final moments of “The Mist,” and, by god, does Darabont make him pay for it.

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