Monday, November 19, 2007

"The Mist" is Closing In

I know Halloween is behind us and that is usually horror movie season. But isn't that just like Stephen King? Just when you think the terror is over, bang! That's when he gets you. I have a feeling that his latest offering, The Mist is no different. Follow that link for trailers, a synopsis, and other behind the scenes goodies. Those of you who know me know I don't go for the mindless gore sort of horror movie. That's why this one appeals to me. The kind I go for deal with the way the people react to what is going on. "The Mist" seems like a cross between "Lord of the Flies" and "Pitch Black". Something is out there and the trapped people know neither what it is nor how far it has spread. Can they escape? Can they even survive? From the trailer, there appear to be enough people left alive to create some interesting dynamics. This is not the usual handful of survivors to be picked off one at a time. I'm sure some will be picked off. Probably several. But it appears to be more about how easily they turn on one another as the situation breaks down. It's as much a study in human nature as it is a horror film.

This, to me, is King's strength. Can he scare the bejeezus out of you? Sure he can. Look at "The Shining". I had nightmares for weeks! But he can also create morally challenging situations and make his characters squirm through them like in "The Green Mile" or "The Dead Zone".

In "The Green Mile" you have what appears to be an innocent man convicted of murder. He certainly doesn't seem capable of violence. But he is black and in the South. And he is a giant. He also has the power to heal others by taking their suffering into himself. The main characters are on the horns of a dilemma. Their job is to carry out his execution. But how do you kill someone who is gentle and innocent? Beyond that, he has the potential to save so many lives.

In "The Dead Zone" a man gains the power to see into the future, seemingly unerringly. He warns people and those who listen are saved or helped in some way. How can he be sure he'll always be right? How can anyone who listens? And what happens if the only way to prevent loss of life is to take someone else's life? Is killing one to save others morally good? These are the kind of questions I like to see people struggle with.

Which brings us back around to "The Mist". If the world is ending and everyone is going to die, does it matter how you treat others before you go? Do you have the right to force your beliefs or morality on them?

I know a few of you out there are far more avid horror buffs than I am. So, who is going to go out and see The Mist by Stephen King? Don't worry. Whether or not I get paid for this ad doesn't depend on how many of you say yes. :)