Both adaptations of the famous Stephen King novella completely miss the point

few writers like stephen kingA prolific writer, his oeuvre is enormous, even without considering his numerous true novels and only focusing on his short stories. King reportedly wrote more than 200 short stories, many of which have been compiled into short story anthologies (and can be adapted for very low prices). Such a large bibliography inevitably raises the question of which is the best and which is the worst, and while the latter is a bit murky, there are many popular candidates. The Shining, Carrie, and it It is an iconic work of horror literature, has great influence in this genre, and is considered the most typical “king”.But there is another story that arguably deserves the title of King’s best horror story, and one of the most influential horror stories he ever wrote, the 1980 horror novella mist. Claustrophobic and introspective, the story combines human drama with otherworldly horror in a deft way, and it’s short enough to rarely feel drawn out.However, with Carrie, IT, or The Shining, They have all undergone iconic adaptations that have cemented their place in public lore (although King himself disliked some of these projects), mist But not so lucky. While it had two separate adaptations (a film in 2007 and a TV series in 2017), neither of those adaptations captured the power of the story. They’re not terrible, but they just don’t work like the original story.

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Why is The Mist a novella?

Cover art for The Mist by Stephen King
Image via Simon & Schuster

One misconception about King is that he’s just a gore and horror monger—a writer whose skills depend entirely on describing and conceptualizing horrific creatures and events. Many who are not familiar with his work might think that King’s story would not succeed without something lurking in the dark. This has always been wrong.like many critically acclaimed stories Body (later adapted into a film stand by my side) and The Shawshank Redemption shows that King’s ability to write convincingly about everyday life is his most powerful tool. You believe in his characters, and within a few pages, you feel as if you know them well. It is this power that makes the horrors introduced later all the more impactful. If you don’t trust the characters, you won’t care when monsters beyond conventional understanding threaten to tear them apart.

the original mist Startup is very slow. You get to know protagonist David Drayton as he and his family clean up after a freak storm destroys their home. It’s a quirky start, and the story goes a long way toward showing you how much our protagonist cares about his family, especially his young son, Billy. Halfway through, you might even start to forget that you’re reading a horror story — which can make you even more uneasy when clues to the horror to come begin to emerge. The radio station doesn’t play, the characters can see a strange fog hanging over the lake, and the tension builds until, at the end, these ordinary people you’ve come to know are plunged into deep terror. The effect of their descent into panic and paranoia is greater because you remember what it was like in the good old days.

king Not above respect.his book salem massif To put it bluntly, it is a basic retelling Dracula, Except it takes place in a small town in New England (doesn’t it). Similarly, mist King tries to reference another East Coast native’s writing style, namely HP Lovecraft. Creatures in the mist are harmless. What they do is not out of hatred for our characters. They are clearly in the wrong place, with animals displaced from their original ecosystems. There are some simple explanations for their origin, but no concrete evidence. They exist not only to entrap and terrorize our protagonists, but also to question their place in the world. Some try to ignore the danger outside or deny it altogether, leading to dire endings. Some convert to religion, like Miss Carmody starting her own little cult, while our protagonist clings desperately to those around him. This is a story about people, not monsters, about how people survive and live when disaster strikes. That’s why the storm comes first in the story; sometimes nature is cruel and it destroys things as you know them, and people have to adapt and survive. The story ends with the hope that there will be some survival, just the idea. The faint radio message could have been misheard, but it still gave viewers a level of hope.

Why did the TV adaptation of “The Mist” fail?

Cast of TV series
Image via Spike TV

Before we dive into why the movie failed, first we have to look at how the 2017 TV adaptation tried to do something different and fell flat entirely. Between the TV adaptation and the original story, only a few aspects remain. The titular fog is here, and people are trapped, but they’re basically new characters, and the series spreads them across three locations instead of one.The problem at hand is mist Unlike the other stories of The King, it is not a complete book. It’s a novella, shorter and more condensed than the other stories.take booth, For example (also had a poorly received adaptation recently). It’s over 500,000 words long — a story that could be made into several seasons of television. mist, Meanwhile, only 50k words.It’s not small by any means, but it means the show has far less to draw on, like Hobbit film trilogy, It stretches the story too thinly. The show basically follows the same story in three different locations, undermining the claustrophobic feel of the original grocery store while adding almost nothing to justify it.

However, by far the worst culprit is the fog itself. In the original story, monsters are just animals, and they have no malice towards humans, just like coyotes have no contempt for chickens. TV shows take a completely different route. This time, there are no monsters, but manifestations of the characters’ own guilt and self-perceived “sin”. It’s a drastic change, and while change isn’t always a bad thing when adapting something, this change completely misses the whole point of the original story. This is not just a disaster, it is a punishment. It has less in common with the original story than one of the stories it directly inspired: silent Hill. It’s an adaptation that’s completely inconsistent with the original story, and while it’s worked in previous adaptations of The King, it doesn’t work this time. By making the Mist a personal force, it takes away a lot of the unique horror of the original and turns it into a digital morality tale.

the original mist It works because of the central dynamic of the story, the relationship between father and son. Everything else revolves around this central dynamic, David wants to keep Billy safe, and because of how the story opens and King’s excellent writing, you as a reader will likely want the same thing. In TV series, these characters are absent, and the cast is so large that it’s hard to care about anyone. Not to mention that the show is incredibly bleak and brutal, and the characters are so obnoxious that it all falls apart. It commits the storytelling sin that King’s stories so often avoid, and ultimately you don’t care about the characters. Low ratings doomed the show, which was canceled after just one season. Perhaps the creators could have spent more time correcting the ship, but the story has been stretched so far that it may have gotten further and further away from the original’s brilliance.

Why didn’t the movie version of The Mist do so well?

Wielding a stick as a weapon, a father leads a small group of survivors through a deadly and mysterious fog.
Image via MGM

At first glance (especially considering the TV adaptation), the 2007 film feels like a much more faithful adaptation. We have the original cast, we have the original setting, and the story generally follows the same basic plot rhythm as the original. There’s a big deviation in the middle that undercuts some of the horror–confirming that the creatures came from a military experiment gone wrong, literally explained by a soldier in the grocery store. The idea that something wrong with the mysterious “Arrow” project was heavily hinted at in the original books, but nothing was ever confirmed. This harsh interpretation robs the monster of some of its incomprehensible Lovecraftian terror. However, that doesn’t ruin the movie. That’s for later.

The moment that really explains why this adaptation doesn’t work comes at the very end of the film. Trapped in a van with his ragtag group of survivors, David drew the group’s revolver and instantly executed everyone there, including his own son. He stumbles out of the van, intending to let the monster in the fog kill him, only to see a line of tanks and soldiers file into the fog to defeat the monster. Just as the soldiers appeared, the fog dissipated. David murdered his friends and family for no reason. Not only is this ending mercilessly bleak, but it feels like a slap in the face to the original story. The novella actually has a line that pokes fun at the idea of ​​the National Guard just showing up and fixing things, and that’s how the movie works! The ending completely destroys any Lovecraftian horror, and the film feels less like a story about a group of people surviving a natural disaster and more like what happens when you lose faith in institutions — often Unnecessarily bleak at best, blatantly propaganda at worst. The show didn’t work because it turned the fog into an easy punishment, and the movie failed by doing the same.

With such an ending choice, the whole movie now takes on a completely different light. mistAt its core is a story about how people behave under great pressure. Some become paranoid and murderous, but others grow closer. We want to protect each other and provide shelter for our loved ones in the belief that this will lead to a better tomorrow. Instead, the movie takes that and concludes: Without our institutions, people would just kill each other, and that’s the end. If we lose faith in our military (which, I remind you, in the lore of this movie actually caused the monsters to appear in the first place), then we are doomed. There is no hope in the original story. The story rightly criticizes Miss Carmody and her doomsday preachers for their belief in a cruel and vengeful God, but the ending still punishes our protagonist for losing his faith, not in God, but in the government. That ending was already shaky after the U.S. government completely screwed up Katrina recovery two years ago, and it’s gotten worse every year since.

The original story is so powerful because even through all the horrors, there are still thoughts of hope. It might be a lie – just misheard radio static – but there’s hope nonetheless. It shows how powerful hope is and why humans need it. Interestingly, mist director Frank Darabont This sentiment is echoed in another of King’s adaptations, this The Shawshank Redemption, which argues that no matter how silly or unbelievable it may seem, we must hold on to our hopes and our loved ones because sometimes that’s all we have.imagine if Shawshank Eventually Andy is captured and sent back to prison, with all his hopes and dreams of escape dashed – will this be remembered? Or will it not be remembered at all? mist This is one of King’s best short stories, but the best way to experience it is still to sit down and read it for yourself.

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