The Mist (Season 1), 2017
Signed up the 28/03/2017
Mild spoilers ahead.
The Mist is a 2017 TV series by Spike, based on the best-selling novel by the horror genre master Stephen King. The show follows a group of small town folk as they try to survive through a mysterious and sinister mist that rolls into the town of Bridgeville, Maine, out of nowhere and cloaks the isolated town with misery. The fog hovers over and shadows the already troubled town, and only plans to surge their gloom.
The town of Bridgeville is no different from other small towns in that in harbours a variety of interpersonal conflicts and secrets among its townfolk. People know every other bit of detail about the next person's life. Gossiping and jealousy are a popular sport. And, and.
Things get tense when Alex, the daughter of (main characters) Eve and Kevin Copeland, is sexually assaulted at a party by the town's wonder-boy. Given that her abuser is a quarterback at the high school, everyone takes his side instead of Alex's. Their defense is that her mother was promiscuous back in her day too- so lots of slutshaming. But that's not the half of it! The show's writers handle the entire storyline around Alex's case as though it were something that is in passing and isn't that important anyway. It's as though they added this for shock-value and to get people talking for their first episode, and wasted no time abandoning those of us that might have been triggered by the involvement of such a sensitive plot in the first place with no plans of taking the matter seriously. It goes an effort further by trying to manipulate us into liking the rapist by making him come across as a "good guy". I'm absolutely frustrated by how carelessly they handled this.
The atmosphere created around the town is as grim and dark as many a horror enthusiasts may anticipate. The mist wastes no time in revealing its malevolent nature. There is sure something in that mist and it will gut you into tiny pieces. Just as a black military guy, who was the first to discover the horrors of the mist after he was somehow abandoned, warned- to no avail because of his 1. Colour 2. Amnesia. What keeps the show from soaring higher is the poor casting. Maybe the cast's performances will get better as they find their feet in their individual roles, but they mostly suck now and that is quite a big flop to pull through as these are the very people that are supposed to propell the story forward.
Nathalie Raven (played by the wonderful Frances Conroy), though, serves as a suprising saving grace. The manner in which she writhes her haunting voice deep into the audience's souls is simply compelling. Her impressive performance is the glue of the whole show. She seems to know a whole lot more about the mist, but chooses to hold back and lets things unfold on their own. This is subsequent to her beliefs; she doesn't believe in the Christian God, but rather in mother nature and her will. This adds such a spooky, yet human tone to the story- the balance proves to be much needed in the midst of the paranormal activity unfolding. Throughout the four episodes we see her experiencing perculiar happenings and clues (like a random moth landing on her hand) leading up to what she finds her self discovering when she ends up at the church. She herself has a big interest in conspiracy theories involving mother nature, which explains why the mist seems an adventure for her- even when it has seen to her husband's death. She also gives us one of the most hair-raising collection of monologues on TV today in just these four episodes:
"There's no spirit, there's nature. There's here and there's not here. And he's not here." - a response to Kevin when he tries to comfort her by saying that her husband's spirit could still be around her forever.
"Because I wanted to die" - a response to why she had decided to go out into the mist. She quickly proceeded with a gleeful "It's okay, I don't want to die anymore. I am happy. I've seen God." She is then reminded that she doesn't believe in God, to which she gracefully answers with a "Well, not your 'God'"
The Mist particularly tickles my fancy because I'm a sucker for small town stories with a touch of eeriness. Though the cast isn't as flattering as I'd have liked them to be, everything else hits the spot. The scenery, covered by large acres of trees, bushes and lakes, dresses the town in pure mystery. The editing is almost spotless, and the colours used for each beat and frame give the show juice.
The mist creeps in to trap the people of Bridgeville in at various locations. At the mall we find that the group of casual mall-goers consists of the high school jock who is accused of raped, one of the moms who absolutely despises Eve and her family, a pack of Privates (soldiers), and various other interesting characters. At the church we find that another group of intriguing characters find their lives even more entertwined than before. This group boasts of a police commander whose ego is larger than the whole town's (also the jock's father), Mrs. Raven, a weird guy with a large moth tattoo on his back, and of course a pastor. Kevin is among them, with him is a loud-mouthed deviant named Mia and his daughter's gay bestfriend Adrian.
Between the two locations different relevant-today, controversial topics and themes are explored. From politics, moral values; "if someone endangers the group we throw them out into the mist" is one of the set of rules established to keep the peace between the mall campers. Themes of religion and beliefs are persued at the church. Adrian says that he has no business believing in God, but is later open to exploring the idea. Mrs Raven beliefs in natural cause. And, of course, the father of the church tries to sway everyone toward taking in the God he so dedicates his existence to. Everyone else at the church seems open to both the pastor and Mrs. Raven's strong theories and are seemingly waiting for one to be proved viable over the other.
Overall, The Mist adaption does poorly in certain areas, but holds a valuable redeeming quality in how it manages to quickly dust itself off and begin to show that glimmer of hope to be a hit series that we so hope it quickly forms into, again.
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