Sometimes it is hard to not think about something…

Two days ago I have written a little bit about the film adaptation of Stephen Kings short novella THE MIST. Yet I simply couldn’t get the ending of this movie out of my head.

The reason is not its drastic or shocking nature. In fact, as I witnessed the chain of events I was happy that finally someone found the guts to pull off something like that. Yet, during the time afterwards, I became more and more skeptical for the feeling that this ending didn’t fit completely.

The first one to blame for this problem would normally be Stephen King himself, but this time it isn’t his fault as the ending was created for this movie alone. And the difference couldn’t be more drastic.

(massive spoilers ahead)

The two endings of THE MIST

In the novella the protagonists escape from the super market store and make it to the car. They all (which means the survivors of the run) jump in and our hero drives with them away into an unsure future filled with this mist. Quite an open end King selected here.

In the movie they also escape from the super market store and make it to the car. Like in the novella the survivors of the run drive away. Yet this time we follow them for a while and when the gas runs out our main character makes a decision…and shoots everyone in the car including his young son. This almost breaks him completely but when the military makes its way to him he completely looses it.

As you can see the movie ending is drastic and really good. Yet, when I think about it I always get the feeling that the movie and this ending aren’t truly connected.

The missing connection

As I understand from a McKee point of view, a movie ending with its final turn of values from good to bad or vice versa is the core of the movie in terms of morale, feelings and so on. It defines the controlling idea/the premise. And therefore everything else in a movie. If you have a comedy and at the end everyone dies you have to rewrite everything else or get rid of this ending. Take THE MATRIX as an example of a strongly designed story that goes to the final turn without halt.

Now, in THE MIST our main protagonist kills everyone besides himself. This makes the ending bad on every level and forms an interesting controlling idea like “only cornered strong enough, man does everything” or something similar in that matter. Yet the whole time in the movie it is never hinted in the hero himself. He always acts in the right sense and almost never loses senses. You can also say that the situation in general gets worse, yet our hero doesn’t change. He doesn’t start to act desperate or truly feel desperate. And therefore his last act feel like out of the blue.

Moreover, there is the religious element of THE MIST. As you have read to this point and hence almost surely seen the film you know the religious talk all the time and how everyone starts to act like a religious fanatic. If we again take McKee into account with his assumptions that an ending defines a movie we can also assume that a movie defines its ending. If the movie is a comedy, the ending is funny. By applying this logic onto THE MIST it becomes clear that the ending should have been about the situation in the store. It would have even been possible to create a really bad ending out of this: our heroes get killed by the bunch. This ending would have been bad and shocking yet more fitting with the rest of the story. On the other hand, not as seemingly that shocking as the one we have.

In review I can truly understand why they chose this ending. It is shocking and shows that even normal people can act like they never would. It is a final big turn of events.

Yet, by changing the original ending it opened a can of worms resulting in a movie that doesn’t fit to its ending and an ending that doesn’t fit to its movie.

Comments

  • I agree whole heartedly with your assessments here. I don’t really understand how it only took about 3 minutes for him to decide to shoot everyone. They didn’t even say anything, or even look around!

    I mean really, they ran out of gas and he almost immediately pulls out the gun! Why don’t they just look around for a second, get out of the car and confirm murder suicide is only option?!

    The people they left behind in the supermarket driving past in safety was a great touch.

  • I haven’t seen the movie, but I have several siblings and friends who have. To a man, each has said it is one of the most depressing movies they’ve ever seen. “What was the point?” they asked, and, “Did I just pay to watch a guy survive all this stuff only to watch him murder his own family?”

    It was a twilight zone ending without a consistent lead-in.

  • Hm

    Hm, are we a bit disappointed over the ending? In fact, it was the most sensible thing to do for him. He promised his son! Or did you really expect him to get out of the car and look around while there’s nothing to be seen and after what happened to all that were exposed to the mist more than a couple of seconds? Just to let his son see/hear him being killed?

    It was a cruel end, but a fitting one. I was in need for a ‘happy end’, too, but it’s still more ‘rewarding’ than the original ‘ending’…

  • candice

    well, this movie left me feeling torn and it was so depressing. HOWEVER, the movie managed to shock me and it is rare that i am shocked. sometimes you grow tired of the expected happy ending.

    • Depends on how one defines ‘rewarding’, I guess…you felt ‘rewarded’ to see a man needlessly murder his friends and his son? I did not…the original ending rewarded me with the gift of after thought, for years to come…I was left with a finale that I thought about, picturing what could happen to the group as they moved forward, into an unknown, dangerous future…FAR more rewarding than a cheap, out of character murder fest finale the theatrical adaption offered, IMHO…

  • madmind

    Everybody, thank you very much for your comments.

    You are absolutely right regarding the happy ending thing in horror movies. I, too, hate nothing more than a forced happy ending. So, I was and am absolutely not disappointed over the ending as Hm implies. In fact I really like this bad ending – which doesn’t fit the movie in my eyes, though.

    And there is another thing I forgot to mention in the post: during the movie there were many situations in which the characters were in a bigger and more imminent danger than at the end. Of course, at the end they were in the middle of nothing surrounded unseen creatures. Yet the situation in the shop was very often far worse than that with the creatures hanging on the neck of everybody.

    In terms of screenwriting, as far as I have learned, you have to put the characters into evolving bad situations, meaning, the situations have become worse over time. The pressure needs to build. But at the end of MIST, at least I got the feeling that there was no pressure at all.

    If the director or the screenwriter would have taken this into account, the ending suddenly would have fit far more than now. Imagine the ending as it is now, only with a bunch of nasty creatures surrounding the car. Our heroes try everything to cast them off, but they fail. No gas, no water, no food. They wait in the car for days (not minutes as implied in the movie) and during these days, our main hero more and more comes to the conclusion that there is only one way…

    This ending would have been four to five minutes longer, yet would have created a better flow of events in my eyes. Not a feeling of a forced event we have in the movie.

  • Anonymous

    I love pessimism, but that ending straight felt like I’d wasted my time watching it. Its overzealous religious themes were too much to handle at times, even for an exaggerated world. I wanted a movie about monsters and people, not the ironic glorification of god’s wrath against atheists. Maybe the real reason I hated it was because up until the ending Thomas Jane was pulling off acting like I’d never think he was capable of. Its unbelievable enough that he kills everyone within minutes of running out of fuel, but then the degradation of his acting after that point made me so disconnected from the movie the ending barely phased me.

  • Rockpopple

    Hi there. I know this is a couple of years too late, but I just saw this movie on TV and I wanted to comment to SOMEBODY. The reason I hated the ending is that it just didn’t make sense.

    I mean, when they’re driving they stop the car because they hear the footsteps and feel the vibrations of a dinosaur-sized monster, but nobody can hear TANKS and HELICOPTERS that are apparently only seconds to their six? How the hell does that make sense? Did the Mist magically cancel out sounds too? Because we heard plenty of monster sounds from the Mist during the movie, but when it’s convenient, the sounds that man-made machines make on a silent road in a dead car suddenly disappear.

    So yeah, that’s why I hated the ending. It was stupid and manipulative. Did I mention stupid?

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Don’t worry, a comment never can be too late.

      Your point regarding the sounds is absolutely correct. It even get’s better when you start to reason that the military has to fight those monsters. Therefore it’s not only tanks and helicopters but tanks and helicopters and big fat explosions. The mist indeed is very, very convenient for the plot. The ending only gets more ridiculous thanks to that.

  • Greetings…

    Very interesting, interesting posts as well…but for those of you that had been prayin’ they would do the original ending in the film (as I did), I would love to know what you think of this…

    http://www.karcreat.com/MistNovellaCut.html

    Thanks…

    -K

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Very well done cut to get as close to the real ending as possible.

      Is there enough material in this movie to perhaps try to show what happens? You could cut it that way that the main character listens to the radio. In the static he hears the destination. At first he doesn’t react. But then the car starts to move and vanishes in the mist.

  • Actually, we created an entirely NEW ending, using some edits from the film, making new ones too…at the moment I am working with a very talenetd b;loke from the UK who does CGI professionally, and we are ADDING several new sequences to the finale as well, all based on scenes from the novella…

    http://www.karcreat.com/MistNovellaCut2.html

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Wow, not bad for a start. Can’t wait to see the final result.

  • Rushil

    I just watched the movie, and i started looking for answers that could possibly explain more about the story than the actual ending. The movie is good, it builds tension and suspense, but then at the end it doesnt clarify certain events.
    For example:
    Why/How did the mist disappear?
    What happened to norton(black man who left store)?
    What is the mist, what does it do? What is its purpose?
    What happens to the people in the store?
    Does the mist consume the entire planet?
    Why doesnt that bug kill that religious lady?
    There are other questions, but that goes beyond the scope of the movie/novel. I think a sequel should be made. Maybe different scenario/viewpoint(eg: the army/scientists)

    Honestly, an ending similar to war of the worlds and evolution would have made a huge impact.

  • Anonymous

    A good movie does not provide answers for all questions raised. The mystery is a part that affects the viewer’s experience or rather it wants the viewer to provide a self explanation for what might have happened for this specific scenario or character

  • Me

    I enjoyed everything in the movie,except for all the religious talk,the ending was not bad,but i feel it was rushed,they could have extended it a little longer.

  • totedati

    well, because the movie is all about faith and reason and conflicts between religion and science, that final is not a bad one … is fitted perfectly on my view in film story and feeling

    to understand the end of the mist you only need to imagine a much looonger end … after one day in the mist what you should do?
    but after one week?
    after a full year?
    after an entire life!?

    you will still believe in a better world?

    as a rational creature, believing strongly in a world and universe without god, you continue to endure that level of mental and physical pain?

    how much you need to wait? how strong need to be you faith in a better end despite the terror and horror which is all around you?

    an irrational faith is better? to believe in an impossible happy end with no immediate evidence? no scientific evidence? no logical or rational explanation?

    why a benevolent god make such a terrible universe full of pain and endless sufferings!?

  • Will

    No, it was just a flatout disconnected shitty ending. the crappy writer obviously thought of impact over story structure, and still failed due to how retardedly random it was.

    americans really have no idea how to make
    movies.

  • totedati

    what story structure!?

    you are so dumb that you need a full day in the mist to understand why suicide solution to end the pain and suffering is a rational one but still wrong because absolute logic and reason is wrong solutions without true faith?

    even if you spend you entire life in the mist?

    this is why Frank Darabont is a good movie! make you dusty brain work!

    • “what story structure!?”

      Wow…seriously?

      Talk about a SILLY ‘comment’…

      “you are so dumb that you need a full day in the mist to understand why suicide solution to end the pain and suffering is a rational one but still wrong because absolute logic and reason is wrong solutions without true faith?”

      OK, from that paragraph, I get to ask…

      “What SENTENCE structure?”

      THESE ARE NOT people who would EVER choose suicide…try watching the preceding FILM, all 94 min of it, for PROOF of this…it makes NO SENSE.

      These are fighters, not cowards who would ‘off’ themselves.

      And very impressive way, by the way, to show the intelligence of your ‘rebuttal, calling me ‘dumb’ simply because I see things differently than you do…real nice move there.

      “even if you spend you entire life in the mist?”

      YOU WOULD BE ALIVE…and so would your KID.
      Love to fight another day…or have no courage and run away?

      I guess I know which option YOU would take, yes?

      “this is why Frank Darabont is a good movie! make you dusty brain work!”

      More impressive sentence construction going on I see…watch out for falling rocks…

      MY brain is in no way ‘dusty’, sport…I’m the one saying O prefer an ending that is AMBIGUOUS…the type that makes you REFLECT, come to your own conclusions…pretty much, ‘dusty’ is the one word you CAN’T use for me…

      Again, impressive work…well done.

  • totedati

    correction
    why Frank Darabont movie, the mist, is a good one!

  • totedati

    but IS ambiguous!

    is suicide the good solution or not?

    you are sure what « i am a fighter » imply?

    to fight you need to BELIEVE in you REASON power

    where is in the mist that proof? that reason has that power?

    you are screaming … you are running around … you are still alive … you want to be next second alive … you are still screaming and running and with a lot of shits in you pants … the kids are screaming and running around … but want to be happy, now, this day, this month …

    and obviously you know that screaming and running around with shits in your pants is not a rational behavior … that make you unhappy … alive … screaming and running around with shits in you pants … and still alive searcing the power of any thing and god that can help you … reason power … faith power … truth power … mother earth power … you will eat shits from you pants if that is a solution … anything …

    is reason a solution?
    is faith a solution?
    religion? any religion? not quite, because trusting an invisible god with no proofs you are still running and screaming and when not you do crazy things like mens and womens left in the supermarket who make you running and screaming even more! not a good solution!
    where can find that power needed to fight and to WIN?
    truth!? what a shit! where is the truth!? how to understand this new brave world!? ruuun!
    to fight and loose is not a good thing … because you are still screaming! and you do not want to die screaming! this is why suicide look like a solution but the end is a proof that is not a good one!

    “YOU WOULD BE ALIVE”
    yeah! alive and screaming and with shits in you pants running around! obviously a good life when you compare that with you life a week ago! that was a good life! the lost paradise …

    well, enjoy! is a new brave world!

    you are still screaming in the mist? you understand why?

  • totedati

    “YOU WOULD BE ALIVE”

    when? today? next day? next month? next life? because screaming and running around with shits in you pants is not a life!

    not a good one!

    when you are screaming and running around with shits in you pants you soul are dead! when you are happy you are alive!

    this life? next life? next next life? where is the truth? where is the power who can pull me alive from the grave?

  • “YOU WOULD BE ALIVE”

    “When? today? next day? next month? next life? because screaming and running around with shits in you pants is not a life! ”

    Excuse me, but do YOU have some sort of written ‘guarantee’ concerning life? I don’t. EVERY DAY you are alive COULD BE your LAST…being alive means you get to experience being with family and friends…being dead DOES NOT.

    YOU may ‘run around screaming and shitting your pants’ (NICE, by the way, very classy), but these people OBVIOUSLY would NOT. They are heroic…you are apparently a foul mouthed CHILD who needs his diaper changed on a regular basis…

    Sad that you are so fundamentally insistent on BEING RIGHT here, when all this really is is a matter of OPINION…you will find in life that other people have OTHER OPINIONS…this does NOT mean you have to yell and scream and run around ‘shitting YOUR pants’.

  • totedati

    “being alive means you get to experience being with family and friends”
    true! this is why is so valuable our happiness! we search our happiness and fight and protect it because we want to be « more » alive! when we are unhappy we are « less » alive …

    yeah! that’s the spirit! the norse fighter’s spirit! true heros! true wariors!

    but to be happy nou need to understand … to understand you kids … to understand you wife … you world …

    to be a hero and a warior you need to win! you need the power to win in you fights! at least sometimes if not when you will manage to experience being with family and friends when you are running around and screaming, you kids are running around and screaming, and your friend are running around and screaming at no end like in « the mist » movie!?

    where is in the mist that power?

    even if you not win this battle you need the faith in you power that you will win next time! or sometime in future! that can make you a little more happy and then you can share you happiness with you kinds and friends … the trust in a better future can make you a little more happy … no trust no happiness … no faith same end … no solutions … either …

    dreaming to be a hero when you lost every battle, one after another to no end, is not a solution … not a rational one …

    you need a power from somewhere to be happy after every lost battle … where is that power?

    this is the big question, not the answer, in “the mist” movie

    when i am running around and screaming with shits in my pants scarred to no end by this new brave world other people opinions is only another shit!

    true for many peoples! another briliant hint from Frank Darabont movie, the mist!

    i need answers! solutions! now! today! until then will run and scream and piss of in my pants and make all people around me run and scream scarred to no end by this new brave world …

    how many true norse heros past week will not run and scream scarred to no end by this new brave world?

    another good question put by Frank Darabont in the mist!

    not answers! questions! so i see a lot of room in this movie for personal reflection!
    that end has a twist! you need to think about that! another good reflection!

    even if the twist in not put in the end you need to think about that!

    so, IS alternatives in the mist!

  • DD

    I didn’t think the Mist and the things in it were all that terrifying, so that you would be running around screaming day after day. Yes, at first because you don’t know what is in the mist, but with out any training, or weapons, they killed a few things, and survived. This is what life is about, overcoming the challenges and problems. Once you know you can kill the interdemenisional buggers you arm up, hunker down and fight. What is with all this no hope, kill yourself talk? Thinking like that is waist of time and gets you dead. But hey, if that is your answer, leaves more food and bullets for those who are willing to fight.

  • “Yes, at first because you don’t know what is in the mist, but with out any training, or weapons, they killed a few things, and survived. This is what life is about, overcoming the challenges and problems. Once you know you can kill the interdemenisional buggers you arm up, hunker down and fight. What is with all this no hope, kill yourself talk? Thinking like that is waist of time and gets you dead. But hey, if that is your answer, leaves more food and bullets for those who are willing to fight.”

    BRILLIANT.
    PERFECT response, exactly what I think as well…thanks…;)

  • Grobu

    Though everything has been said more or less about the Mist, and its ending, I’d like to have a go at it. I find it disturbing in various respects, which is probably fulfilling the director’s intent.
    More terrifying than gore and monsters is the desacration of a father’s promise to his son. The boy is the embodiment of what is sacred to most humans, an innocent being to love and protect at all cost. Killing him for fear he might die of a more horrible kind of death, is a first bitter and deeply unsettling step in the desacration. Realising that this gesture of despair came at the wrong moment, when the boy could have escaped this nightmare and live on, is a twisted irony, a tragedy in which viewers’ empathy is being crually played with. A wicked fate is making fun of the price the father paid to “protect” his son, the highest and most painful price a parent could possibly pay. For nothing.

    But there’s more.

    I can’t help wondering what happened to the folks at the store. It can very well be that they have been liberated by the army, and that that bunch of sordid bigots were on the happy-ending side of the movie. I suspect there is a kind of subtext bringing a most unexpected support to Mrs Carmody’s character. As someone pointed out earlier, why does the monster mosquito spare her at the last moment? Why does she die in a graceful kind of ways, almost like a martyr? Why does it feel that her “prophecies” have been fulfilled, that all the lives she claimed during her religious hysteria, have indeed been sacrificed?
    At the moment fear and tension rise past the fragile boundaries set by reason and civilisation, the movie stages what looks like a straightforward opposition between rationalism and mysticism. Proponents of the latter, confronted with events and creatures beyond their understanding, set out to force a religious explanation on it, as if whatever uncontrollable form of danger to mankind were the manifestation of a heineous god, only to be resolved by submission and sacrifices, in the same backward kind of ways that Mayans in Apocalypto sacrifice local tribes to win their gods’ favour. At the opposite, Drayton stands as the embodiment of the hero, the reasonable, courageous and enlightened one.
    But the ending destroys everything and reverses the values. Destiny spits in the hero’s face and seems to side up with the Old Testament worshipping lunatics : the monsters are gone after the sacrifice has been completed.
    That is even more disturbing. And disgusting.

    As a conclusion, I’d say the Mist, literally, is probably a metaphor about the unknown, or about crisis situations, when there are no guidelines anymore, and the human mind is at a loss how to explain and what to do. But also, the mist illustrates the elusive nature of destiny. What will become of us, what is ahead? Choices are prompted by circumstances and assumptions, but nobody can read fate.

    • Anna

      Beautiful comment. Probably one of the best, if not, the best elucidation of the film.

      Thank you!

  • Xacto01

    Despite all the improbabilities and illogical occurrences, the most illogical is the decision to kill his own son based on rationalities. Nobody in their right mind would kill their own son because they felt it was keeping to their word? Life vs their word? And to the argument that they don’t want a horrible death, thats not how the human mind work works. Its fight or flight, not kill your son.

  • Elijah

    Just watched this movie. Everything was good except the ending. How it should have ended?

    “The dad decides to shoot everyone…he puts his arm around his kid and looks out the window kissing his sons head…he puts the gun to his sons head and goes to pull the trigger, as he looks out the window with tears in his eyes the mist clears and he sees helicopters in the skies and tanks coming” “he drops the gun in shock and holds his son in both arms and says “we’re going home”

    The end. If it was my movie…..

  • Angel Hart

    All good points but what i wonder is what would happen to that man for killing his little boy? and yea the ending did suck. i thought wat would i do if it was my kid. i may have resorted to that as opposed to a worse death but only ONLY as a last resort. so stupid

  • quinton

    My only problem with the ending was we never saw any battle against the monsters and army/ air force. Just a suicide :(

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  • I’ve seen someone mention religious tone about this movie. I’ve always had a sense that the movie was about “faith,” or lack of. Seems most people did not believe that they would get out of the situation and became desparate, therefore not believing. The woman who went to look for her children was not afraid and put the needs of her children before her own sense of fear. She and her children survived. She had faith. The main character realized he should have waited, or believed or had “faith” Just my analysis.

  • Pete

    I loved this novella and was excited when Darabont finally got it made. The movie was pretty good overall but the end was Hollywood stupid. King’s ending was sooooooo much better. I think Hollywood believes us to be ignorant peasants who can’t intellectually deal with an uncertain ending that relies on our imagination. To them we need to be hit in the head with the stupidity we saw at the end of the Mist.

  • The book ending was superior because it was BOTH darker than the film ending (it depicted the literal Apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it…FAR darker than the ‘it was all temporary, things will be OK now’ movie ending) AND it offered hope in the sense that no matter what, our heroes would live another day, struggling and fighting to stay alive…

    Basically, a neat metaphor for LIFE ITSELF, really…we have no idea what dangers will be there tomorrow, but we opt to move ahead and do our best to survive…a FAR better message than ‘chicken out when the going gets tough, off our friends and family’, don’t you think?

    :)

  • SIDE NOTE for those interested…the Novella Cut/Fan Edit of The Mist has been completed for awhile now, and is available to anyone WHO PURCHASED THE DVD of the film (you MUST own a copy of the film in order to obtain the fan edit)

    More info on the official Novella Cut website, including how to get your 100% free DVD copy…

    http://kkarstens.wix.com/mistnovellacut

    Thanks for your support and interest, novella fans…;)

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  • Rory

    While reading through some comments, I had a thought. Maybe Mrs. Carmody was right. She wanted to sacrifice Amanda and Billy. David killed them and 2 minutes later the mist is gone and the ordeal is over. Maybe I’m just spit balling here, but it puts a new kind of edge onto the ending.

  • Carolyn

    What the hell happened to the freaking mist? Like where the hell did it go? All of a sudden it was just gone? What caused the mist?

    On another note, I just put my children to bed. I came upstairs and my boyfriend is watching the mist. So i decided to go to our room and watch something else. He keeps insisting I watch it with him. I refuse. One time is plenty. I will never as long as I live watch the mist again. I still remember after 8 years the gut wrenching feeling I had at the end of this movie. I refuse to tell him the ending and why I won’t watch it with him. He deserves the same surprise and horror that I felt from watching it. That being said I will not will not watch it again. No no no. Okay rant over!

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