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Headscratchers / The Mist

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  • At the end of the movie, pretty much everything Mrs. Carmody said has come true exactly how she said it would. Hell, the mist only disperses when the military shows up... immediately after David has killed his son, which is exactly what Mrs. Carmody and her congregation wanted to do. Does that mean that we should have been rooting for her all this time? In other words, is *she* the hero of this movie?! That's... a little disturbing.
    • Yup. It's meant to be eerily ambiguous who's right.
    • Maybe we should root for them for at least trying? Also... aren't you going too far in the causal correlation between David's son dying and the military showing up and the mist dispersing?
      • Possibly, but consider that everything Mrs. Carmody said came true, including that bit at the end (even though she wasn't there to see it). Also, when the bugs invade the store, they not only don't sting her but actively let her live. Seems pretty conclusive to me.
      • Not everything. She claimed divine protection when one of the bugs decided not to attack her, when the film made it quite clear to the audience that it was because she had avoided moving or generating light.
      • Also, the timing's off for it to be a literal, rather than just symbolic, correlation. The soldiers who show up at the end have clearly been rescuing people and burning the Mist and its creatures for hours, long before the boy died. Heck, the lady who walked out at the very beginning of the siege might have survived because she stumbled into one of the military's scouting parties on her way home. Our heroes had actually been driving in the *opposite* direction of the advancing army the entire time, and they were only *minutes* away when they finally ran out of gas.
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    • I saw it and thought "Hm, the bugs are evil and she's evil. Demonic correlation."
      • I believe the business term is "professional courtesy." It's why you never hear about victims of shark attacks being lawyers. Yes, I just went there.
      • You're thinking of robberies. Sharks avoid lawyers because of the bad taste.
      • Many creatures are a lot less likely to attack if you don't panic, and some will actively avoid you if you're not acting like prey (cougars, for example, will likely run if you fight back). Mrs. Carmody remained very calm when the insect monster landed on her, so it's possible the bug interpreted this as, "Not afraid. Must not be food."
      • And the bugs were essentially giant alien wasps. Who hasn't had a wasp land on their clothing, and held very still until it got bored and flew away again?
      • Thing is, if she is right, then her particular view on the Christian God is true, an idea that is more frightening than any of monsters could be.

  • At the end, when David shoots the rest of the survivors to spare them, why doesn't he just have two of them put their heads together and kill them with one shot? Problem solved, and he wouldn't have had to learn that he killed them all in vain. The gun looked plenty powerful enough to do the trick.
    • I'm not sure the bullet would be able to get that far. The skull is tough, and it'd have to go through that at least 3 times (in, out, in) to work. And if David screwed up, they die slowly and painfully, which is exactly what they were trying to avoid.
      • Given that we've already seen it penetrate at least one exoskeleton, if it were me, I think I'd take the chance. Anyway, slow and painful is at least preferable to slow, painful and terrifying.
      • Most of these monsters (except perhaps the spiders) seem to kill their prey relatively quickly. It's more of a tossup between "slow and painful" and "painful and terrifying, but fast." And face it, dying slowly from a botched gunshot is liable to still be pretty terrifying.

  • Why didn't they just keep the original ending? The film version goes way beyond Shoot the Shaggy Dog and also comes with the most cliche, narm-worthy timing ever.
    • The "Non-ending" that many Stephen King short novels end on just doesn't work as well for movies. It's harder to have a sense of closure in a motion picture that just stops rather comes to a conclusion. Many of King's short novels and short stories have this kind of low key ending, and they are almost universally changed for adaptations.
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    • The alleged narm-worthiness is very much a YMMV. In this Troper's experience, the entire reason people remember this movie is because of the ending. It's also worth noting that King, himself, wishes that he'd thought of the adaptation's ending.

  • When David first tells the group what happened in the loading dock, nobody seems to consider the fact that Norm is nowhere to be found. Even later when Norton is arguing to leave ("You throw some cow's blood around a loading dock"), he doesn't mention it. Perhaps Norton thinks Norm ran on home as part of the supposed prank, but what bugs me is that nobody ever brings it up. You would think the fact that one of the group has VANISHED might make people a little more inclined to believe David's story.
    • Monsters aren't real. You'd believe pretty much anything before you believe that monsters are real.
    • This was sort of mentioned in the original draft of the script. The manager was calling out for Norm wondering where he went.
    • Pretty sure some of the guys in the store were going "Norm? Who's he?" in the background.
    • One of the deleted scenes features the manager and cashier calling for him.
    • It's very brief but there's a moment just after David mentions Norm's name when the store manager turns to one of the cashiers and clearly says "Where's Norm?", as though it's only just that moment occurred to him that Norm isn't there, and the cashier then also looks around for him. Given that the manager then sees the tentacle for himself - that being what ultimately changes his mind - and the cashier is seen several times helping David's group, it's fairly reasonable to assume without having it spelled out that Norm's disappearance was considered to be either proof that David and the others were telling the truth, or else proof that it's all an elaborate prank and (as the OP said) that Norm simply went home. Either way, it's something that presumably merely pushes people into a deeper belief of what they're already assuming to be the case with regard to the whole situation, since they're all already scared and in the process of establishing factions by that point.

  • The woman who leaves the supermarket to find her kids at the beginning. Yes, her fear for her children is perfectly understandable. Yes, it's still stupid for her to leave the store alone and without any protection whatsoever. And she lives, not that we ever find out how. The message is subtle as a brick — simpering, virtuous stupidity is rewarded, while pragmatic intelligence fails. Then again, she may have just bothered me so much because her dialogue ("Won't any of you help a lady home?") falls squarely into that odd realm of Stephen King dialogue that looks fine on paper but sounds utterly unnatural when spoken by a real person.
    • Disagree with the dialogue thing. To me it sounded like she was appealing to chauvinism and begging them for help while still remaining somewhat dignified. She also sounded like she knew what she was getting in to, and just went for her kids. And for all we know, she spent days fighting off hordes of monsters with sticks and rocks, got to a working communication device and told the military about the extent of the situation, saving hundreds or thousands of lives.
    • Really? Combined with the final ending I took the lesson to be if you give up you deserve the worst. Only the people who do not give up can get a happy endings even if it means risking certain death.
    • The "subtle" message is that there is no message —horrible things happen that can lie beyond our control, and whether people come out the other side unscathed has nothing to do with any personal virtue, intelligence, or pragmatism. Life itself does not "reward" or "punish" behavior: good things may happen to bad people and vice versa, simply for cold, pointless happenstance, and the only thing we can do is cope and try to pick ourselves up afterwards... Or the lady might have fled at just the right time to escape the otherdimensional creatures and reach her children. Like the above troper stated, we have no idea what she went through.
    • Um... sorry, back up. How do we know she survived? Just because she didn't scream like Mr. "I'm getting the hell out of here" did does not mean she survived. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. She probably still died. Just not right then.
      • We see her alive and well with her children at the end of the film. They're among the civilian evacuees on the Army trucks.

  • The sheer stupidity of the people in the mall. It is true that people will do idiotic things when frightened, but it went way, way beyond Willing Suspension of Disbelief for me. It seems ridiculous that after a few days of terror, dozens of people would follow a clearly insane religious demagogue and willingly try to murder women and children. If they'd followed, I don't know, some sort of survivalist-type guy who wasn't so clearly crazy... as it stands, the film is near-unbelievable by the end.
    • Its classic cult psychology, take away everything from a person including their security that the world is what they think it is and then use a strong confident personality and many will follow. Only many mind you, the opposition got whittled down by the creatures.
    • This is pretty typical of Stephen King's works, the worst of people (or at least their inner crazy) coming out, especially in stressful situations.
    • It's stated in the book that Mrs. Carmody preached incessantly to the people in the store, and that's one of the ways she got people on her side. She kept talking so much that, eventually, they had nothing else to do but listen.
    • Speaking personally it's a very interesting spot they find themselves in. As an atheist it seems silly at best to follow a deity you have limited if any evidence that it exists. If a fog rolls into my city bringing with it tentacle monsters, acid web spiders, foot long wasps and critters that step OVER the store I'm in and I'm going to change my opinion on gods immediately. I now have PROOF. After that it's just a matter of do you follow the only person who seems to have answers or do you attempt to find your own. I can very easily see rational people in that situation happily sacrificing a child. Especially if they could be convinced that the child was going to Heaven.
    • Except the appearance of unnatural fog and nasty alien animals only proves that unnatural fog and nasty alien animals are real. It doesn't prove jack-squat about whether Mrs. Carmody's God sent them. Heck, if anything it would imply that that writer guy up near Bangor was right about how the universe works more than it implies the Bible was.
    • In real life plenty of people have followed a clearly insane religious demagogue and willingly murdered women and children. Drayton even compares Carmody to one of those, Jim Jones.

  • Am I the only one on Brent Norton's side? Maybe it's because David is so utterly unlikable, but Norton makes sense considering he didn't see the monster. David doesn't explain it very well either, resorting to insulting him quickly.
    • What's so unlikeable about David?
    • Yeah, you're probably the only one. David addressed him in the most civil manner possible and only insulted him after he acted like a total dick for awhile. And maybe he didn't see the monsters, but at least five other people had seen them or their remains and were backing David's story. But he refused to go to see it for himself or believe any of them because they were "goddamned hicks" trying to fool the smart city dweller.
    • The thing is, the proof is there for Norton to see (in the form of the tentacle that they severed) and David even repeatedly encourages him to go and look. Regardless of how well David was explaining it (and he actually doesn't resort to insulting Norton until Norton insults their group first), he made it very clear that there was a severed tentacle that Norton could easily go and find. Norton simply made up his mind not to believe any of them. And worse, he made up his mind based entirely on pre-existing prejudices - assuming that David's making it all up to make him look silly and has somehow managed to recruit four others during a crisis when he's also got a terrified young son to be worrying about, and the others all being "hicks". Sure, Norton didn't see the monster attack but he never once attempts to engage in even the possibility that these clearly terrified men are telling him the truth; he's not even in the group that goes with the store manager to see the tentacle.
    • His belligerence against David may not have been against David specifically, but was simple denial. What was happening outside was horrific and beyond the realms of his usual expectations, so his brain locked into the idea that none of this is happening. He would not accept that it was happening. Even accusing David of pulling a prank would have been the preferable option to him, because if it were a prank, no one's life would be in danger.

  • In the end, David decides to mercy kill the others... As soon as the car runs out of gas. Isn't that a little hasty? It may have eventually come to that, but what harm would waiting there in the car for awhile do? Of course he couldn't know that help was five minutes away, but by shooting them right away he ruined any chance of being found or waiting it out
    • That whole ending bugged this troper, too. They're basically taking a quick death over a possibly painful one, but at that moment, there was no clear and present danger. In fact, given that there was mist everywhere, it would make them that much harder to spot, especially if they all stayed still and kept the windows shut. It just seemed ridiculous that a father would choose to kill his own son at a moment when they were relatively safe and there was still a chance of survival.
      • Not to mention the kid just woke up. You'd think he'd wait until he fell asleep again, at least.
      • Really though, consider the situation. Ya, there wasn't a clear and present danger at that moment, but they were trapped in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mist with nowhere to go and no reason to expect rescue before they die of thirst or get eaten by monsters, and they're not exactly about to go exploring on foot. There was little hope to begin with, but once the gas ran out there was just little point in going on, given that they could guarantee a quick, painless death or possibly wait days to die horribly.
      • With the sheer variety of creatures that we've seen there are at least four or five different kinds of monsters and probably more and no guarantee you'd get to die on your terms if you didn't do it right then. People have bad aim when they are panicked and I'm sure there are beasts that could rip open a vehicle pretty quickly.
      • If he'd waited until something else attacked them, he might have reflexively shot at the creatures and had no bullets left for the group. And he didn't want his boy to have to watch anyone else get killed.
      • Two things missing from this conversation: 1, they had just heard another alien sound getting closer and nobody was saying "what now?" so the course of action was clear among all of them, and 2, the kid made his dad promise that he wouldn't let the monsters get him. It's almost the boy's last lines in the supermarket. Also, the kid woke up to his dad pointing a gun in his face. One way or another that boy was never sleeping again.
      • David had probably been steeling his nerve to carry out the Mercy Kill ever since he got his hands on the pistol. All through the drive, he would've been considering his options, and choosing a point-of-no-return (when the gas ran out) at which he'd have to go through with it. If he didn't stick to that resolution and get it over with, he surely feared that he'd keep doing so — opting to wait "just a few more minutes" over and over, putting off what he believed had to be done — until some other monster pounced on the car and it was too late.
      • He could have waited until the last minute, also that strange sound was actually an army truck, when considering mercy kill it's best to only use it as a last resort, beside none of the characters considered the army coming in and taking out the monsters? The whole ending was just a huge what an idiot moment.
      • The point about that they are in the middle of the mist and therefore “hidden” I think is bs because the creatures clearly come from a planet with that environment and hunt in the mist (and some of them seem not to even have eyes, so they probably hunt using other senses). Also they have no way to know that the sound approaching was a truck, nor that the army was still around fighting creatures. As a viewer when I was watching that scene I assume the experiment have turn the entire Earth in that weird mist place and that there was no longer governments nor armies, and that the effect was irreversible (after all, in no way was ever implied that the effect was only local and that the army was able to contain it) I was equally surprised when I saw the army burning creatures and dispersing the mist.
      • Indeed, the fact that some of the Arrowhead Project soldiers - the very ones implied to have some notion what was going on - hanged themselves at the supermarket rather than face what was coming would've seemed to confirm that whatever had caused the Mist was global or at least nation-wide in scope. Those guys certainly didn't seem to have any hope that the military would be coming to the rescue. Oh, and David's group were "hidden" from the creatures' sense of smell, not their vision. They had all the windows up.
      • There's a few things to explain this. The first one is that every way they've seen death up to this point has been absolutely horrifying to witness, to the point where they are terrified of the prospect of being left to the monsters. They were too scared to think the sound would be anything but another, larger monster instead of the army as they had no reason to believe the army was around. It really is a case of 'Better to die than to be killed.'
      • And David actually did have cause to act immediately: if the approaching sound had gotten any louder, his kid definitely would've woken up. Indeed, he probably wished he'd acted sooner in those few seconds when he was shooting the others, because the boy did awaken at the worst conceivable time.

  • Other than by the power of Aesoptinium how did that chick that'd left the mall in the beginning, survived реу monsters and made it to the military? None of the other guys made it even past the parking lot without getting chomped.
    • I always figured it was a lot like wandering in a jungle. It's perfectly possible to wander for miles and not see a thing, or walk ten feet and get eaten. There's a huge amount of randomness to that situation, because animals aren't always hungry, sometimes prefer prey they are used to, and just generally aren't seeking you out because they are not actually evil. Nonetheless, they are wild animals and perfectly capable of killing and eating you.
    • Possibly the creatures were attracted to large gatherings of people first, and the spider-things that ambushed David's group were too busy killing everyone in the pharmacy to notice a lone woman out in the parking lot.
    • The fact that she left very soon after the mist's descent, but not instantly, may have played in her favor. Most of the monsters would've nabbed enough human prey to slake their appetites in the first few minutes, before anyone realized the danger. The woman probably slipped past a bunch of already-gorged monsters that couldn't be bothered to track her down, and made it safely home before those creatures got hungry again.
    • Here's a better question: why does everyone keep assuming she survived? After she disappears in the mist, there is nothing to suggest what her fate actually was.
      • She's present at the end with the military.
      • Oh. I'll shut up now.

  • I'm not a Christian, but it's my understanding that Jesus' death was supposed to have rendered the expiationary blood sacrifices required by Mosaic law superfluous. By demanding more of them, Mrs. Carmody is basically saying that the blood of Christ wasn't sufficient. Was there really no other Christian in the store who would challenge her blasphemous ignorance of the most basic doctrines of their religion? (All we got was that vague "God is not an asshole" stuff.)
    • In story, it was cult psychology at work. The people in the store were looking for some kind of answer and Carmody was the one they turned for that answer, so there was little chance of argument going on. No one's gonna be double-checking their bibles when the end of the world is just outside the door.
    • There's also that part in the movie where mrs. Carmody says the one true God is the one from Old Testament: angry, vindictive God that will smite you for even the smallest of infractions.
    • Finally the sudden appearance of what clearly appear to be demonic creatures is going to rapidly shift people's belief structures around. An atheist mentions above that acid shooting spiders and Gargantua appearing out of the Mist is essentially an end to atheism. A lot of Christians presumably believe in the Bible because there is no better explanation. When monsters start killing good people apparently the Blood of Christ wasn't good enough, had an expiration date, we're such fuck ups we overwhelmed the good of the sacrifice. Regardless the point is that Carmody is the only person who so much as claims to have an idea what is going on.

  • Why the Mist creatures simply don't bulldoze their way into the supermarket? It's pretty clear that some of the things out there could effortlessly smash through simple wood and glass.
    • It's entirely possible that they don't see a reason to. Nothing in the movie or book suggests that these monsters are particularly intelligent and many animals are held in check by barriers could easily tear down or climb over. Most cattle for instance are held back by fences they could plow through, dogs stay in yards with fences they could clear with ease (but will quickly leave if the gate is left open) and it may be as simple as the monsters not having any concept of a building or that there might be yummy humans inside.
    • In the novella, it's strongly implied that the creatures hunt by scent, as the mist obstructs vision and distorts sound. The supermarket's front windows weren't much of a barrier against impact, but they did bottle up the smell of the people inside. That's why the market wasn't overwhelmed, unlike the pharmacy next door: there, the proprietor didn't have a generator to keep the A/C going after the storm knocked out the electricity, so had propped the doors open for fresh air.

  • Why does the tentacle monster only grab one guy?
    • Because the other people there had put up a somewhat decent fight, even cutting off part of one of the tentacles, so the monster probably figured that grabbing more just wasn't worth it. It grabbed what it could and got out before it got hurt again.
    • The first thing it grabbed (Norm) was edible, but after that its tentacles were only finding things like bleach bottles, dog food bags, and rolls of toilet paper. It may have given up as much because it wasn't finding anything else worth eating as because it'd lost a tentacle-tip.

  • What were the tentacles attached to? My guess is either some kind of land squid, or the HUGE creature at the end (we see that it has plenty of tentacles). If the latter is true, the earthquake at the beginning could've been the creature kneeling down next to the store.
    • It doesn't seem likely to be a Behemoth, considering that they shake the ground with each step. It's probably another species altogether, perhaps an aquatic life form that found itself stuck in a storm drain and burst out of it.
    • Personally, I pictured a giant slug-like creature with tentacles ringing its mouth (two large ones and a bunch of small ones, similar to squid). Alternatively the tentacles might not have been tentacles at all but a pack of worm-like communal hunters.

  • Did Ollie have to shoot Mrs. Carmody a second time in the movie? The gunshot wound to her abdomen would have not been survivable without immediate medical attention and since there were obviously no doctors in the store, her fate was already sealed with that first shot. David would have had a bullet for himself in that case. If she absolutely had to die, why not snap her neck, strangle her, or take the knife she had and stab her or slit her throat?.
    • First, because Ollie isn't a sadist, and second, because his demonstrated willingness to keep on shooting until the threat is down is the only thing keeping the rest of Carmody's mob at bay.
    • Why didn't he also kill the mechanic and the butcher? They were her right-hand men and proved to be extremely dangerous and just as homicidal as she was, possibly even more (especially the butcher).
    • If they'd chased the group outside, Ollie probably would have shot those men. But so long as they are content to let him and the others leave, there's no need to. And Ollie may have been hoping that they'd come to their senses once Mrs. Carmody was dead and no longer brainwashing them.

  • Why didn't Mrs. Carmody's followers try to save her or avenge her? When she begins gathering followers, they were shown to be pretty protective of her and were always around her. When they lynched Private Jessup, David and his group tried to save him, but her followers blocked the way and held them back. If her followers were so protective of her and so devoted to her, why did they immediately run off or hide when Ollie shot her the first time and leave her completely exposed? Why didn't they pull her to safety, throw themselves in front of her, or try to stop Ollie from shooting a second time? When Ollie shot her the first time, he walked up to her and paused for a few seconds. There were 4-5 people armed with weapons: the mechanic and butcher each had huge knives, there was a guy wielding a baseball bat, I saw a guy with a hammer, and I think I saw a woman with a frying pan. Why, during that time where he was paused, didn't any of those people rush at Ollie and try to subdue or even kill him and take the gun away from him? Even better, after she was killed, why didn't anyone, especially those with the weapons, make any effort to avenge her or stop David's group from leaving the store? Why not sneak up behind any member of David's group and kill them? They had a chance to at least somewhat avenge her when Budd Brown ran back and begged to be let back in. They could have locked the door and just walked away or killed him the second they let him in, but no. They squandered that chance too. Just doesn't make any sense as to why they would protect their beloved leader one moment, then leave her to die and not make any efforts at revenge the next.
    • Have you noticed how everyone slowly turned around to look back at Mrs. Carmody after the alien attacked Jessup? The two guys in the front were smiling, but not everyone who turned around to look back at her were, somewhat gives you a feeling of distrust, especially the way she did somewhat look perplexed after she noticed everyone was looking at her. It is quite possible most if not all just thought she got what she deserved.
    • First, because they were all rather shocked by what had happened to her. Her self-proclaimed "God-given" invincibility in the wake of her giant-alien-wasp encounter - the very reason they didn't think they needed to get between her and Ollie - had just been proven B.S., and with that brutal debunking, they suddenly were confronted by the truth that they'd just been about to murder an innocent child for nothing. Second, all of them are already convinced that stepping outside the supermarket means instant death, so if the lot of them are dead-set on leaving, they don't need to kill any of David's group, because they expect the creatures will do it for them. And third, they keep back and don't intervene because they've got hammers, knives, and frying pans. Ollie's got a freaking gun.
    • Maybe so, but how come they let the store manager back in? His buddy killed their leader not two minutes earlier and there were people who still believed her and were outraged at her death (e.g. the woman who screamed murderer at Ollie as they were leaving). I mean, if I were one of her followers, I would have just locked the door and walked away.
    • Perhaps the sole reason they opened the door to him was so they could exact their vengeance on him more directly.

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