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Literature / The Mist

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"There's no defense against the will of God. There's no court of appeals in hell. The end times have come; not in flames, but in mist..."

Amanda Dumfries: You don't have much faith in humanity, do you?
Dan Miller: None whatsoever.
Amanda Dumfries: I can’t accept that. People are basically good. Decent. My God, David, we’re a civilized society!
David Drayton: Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get.

The Mist is a 1980 horror novella written by Stephen King. The story revolves around several members of a small town community who find themselves trapped in the local supermarket when, following a violent thunderstorm, a thick unnatural mist envelopes the town. While tensions arise within the group, the survivors face vicious attack from abnormal creatures prowling in the mist.

A film adaptation was released in 2007, marketed as Stephen King's The Mist. The film is written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously adapted Stephen King's work and had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s.

It features an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, Andre Braugher, Alexa Davalos and Sam Witwer. Darabont began filming The Mist in Shreveport, Louisiana in February 2007. The director changed the ending of the film to be darker than the novella's ending, a change to which Stephen King was amicable. Unique creature designs were also sought to differ from creatures in past films.


A television series adaptation aired on Spike TV in 2017. The novella was published a second time in 1985 as part of the collection Skeleton Crew.

Not to be confused with Miguel de Unamuno's novella Mist.

This Novella/Film Contains Examples Of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Frank Darabont infamously changed the ending from the novella into a Diabolus ex Machina for the film. The original left it on a more ambiguous note, with the survivors facing an uncertain fate with the whole world apparently overrun by the monsters from the mist. In the film the main character reluctantly decides to shoot his companions to save them from a more horrible death mere minutes before the mist suddenly starts to dissipitate and the army rolls in to clear the area. Stephen King has said that he actually preferred this version to the one that he wrote.
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  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The film's ending. Good God, the film's ending!
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Beauty certainly lies in the eye of the beholder, but Marcia Gay Harden is quite not the old hag Mrs. Carmody is portrayed as in the book.
  • Adaptation Expansion: There is an extra scene in which someone is killed and given to the monsters as an offering, which Stephen King said he should have thought of himself when writing the story. He has said the same regarding the film's darker ending.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Hilda becomes Irene in the movie.
  • Agent Scully: Norton, for denying anything supernatural.
  • All Webbed Up: Done rather effectively with the spider-like monsters in the pharmacy. Made worse because the webs are coated in caustic secretions.
  • Amoral Attorney: Brent Norton, a New York lawyer who is a Straw Vulcan Obstructive Bureaucrat Jerkass.
  • An Aesop:
    • In times of hardship, don’t give up hope that things will get better. In the movie, the main character learns this the worst way possible.
      • Faith can be good motivator, but it may not be necessarily what you need. Making decisions off of what you believe a higher power being would want you to do as opposed to making rational choices in that moment will have consequences.
  • Another Dimension: In-house rumors about the top-secret Arrowhead Project state that the military was attempting to open a portal to another universe, which explains the mist and its monsters.
  • Angry Black Man: Brent Norton in the film; in the original he's an older white man.
  • Anyone Can Die: Even more so in the movie.
  • Apocalypse How: Depending on how far the mist traveled across the world, the novella and movie both depict an awful regional catastrophe, at least, and possibly anything ranging from a biosphere extinction to the complete annihilation of the fabric of the Universe. At the end of the film, a heavily-armed military clean-up crew is moving in and clearing the mist, implying a regional rather than worldwide catastrophe. In the radio play version at the very end over the radio from the rest of the country you hear: "Death comes. Death comes for all of us." This is also the last words heard from the Arrowhead project, which is where the Mist came from in the first place. Even Darker and Edgier. The original novella ends with all of New England, at least, pulled into the mist, and the heroes left with one slender reed of hope.
  • Arc Welding: Several plot points in The Mist come across as much more meaningful if you've read the Dark Tower series, which connects multiple Stephen King works to each other. If you have, it's pretty clear that the titular mist was actually a "thinny" (a weak spot in the barrier between parallel worlds), that the creatures from the mist were creatures from "Todash" (the primordial darkness between worlds, whose denizens are commanded by the Crimson King), and that Project Arrowhead's theory about the existence of alternate universes was their first step towards realizing the true nature of the Multiverse. The movie subtly highlights the connection: the very first scene shows David painting a picture of a gunslinger standing in front of a black tower, which fans will recognize as an illustration of Roland from The Dark Tower.
  • Asshole Victim: Mrs. Carmody and to a lesser extent, Norton.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Near the end, some of the monsters grow... big. In the novella, the heroes nearly run into the footprint of one - and it engulfs the entire road. They see it earlier, and it has some rather large bird-like things hanging from its back.
  • Alien Blood: The monsters have either yellow, black, or brown blood.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: When the men try to fix the generator they're attacked by a bunch of tentacles, overpowered and one of them is dragged into the mist. We never know what the rest of the creature looks like, at least in the book.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mrs Carmody. She gets more and more bonkers until she tries to have the entire group killed!
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The entire point of the movie is to show how most people would believe any notion, no matter how crazy it sounds on paper, and commit any atrocity when put in a sufficiently incomprehensible and dangerous situation.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the flim, it backfires. Oh boy, does it backfire.
  • Big Bad: Despite all the alien nasties outside the store, the biggest threat turns out to be Mrs. Carmody.
  • Biological Mash Up: The Gray Widows have incongruously human-like jaws in arachnid bodies. As if having too many legs to be actual spiders was not enough...
  • Bittersweet Ending: While an absolute downer for David, this is the case for everyone else. With the military's intervention, humanity is, as a whole, still saved from The Mist.
  • Black Blood:
  • Bloody Handprint: On the glass exit doors.
  • Body Horror: A very prominent example in the pharmacy; the reason that one of the men in that place is still alive is because he is serving as a nursery to several hundred infant Grey Widows..
  • Boom, Headshot!:
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted to tragic effect. Amanda only had twelve bullets for her gun, and only twelve shots are fired during the course of the movie. And then it turns out that twelve bullets were way too many.
  • Brass Balls: Said of the biker who volunteers to leave the supermarket and brave unknown peril to attempt to retrieve a rifle from a pickup in the parking lot.
  • Cassandra Truth: In the original story, when the main character hears the monster outside of the storage room, several people refuse to believe that anything is out there. This, of course, leads to someone getting killed. Even then, there is a group of people who don't want to think that there are monsters in the mist. It takes them going outside and, of course, being eaten for everyone to figure out that something is a
    • A really dark interpretation of the ending is this, as Mrs Carmody claimed that killing a boy would make the mist and the monsters go away, and technically speaking the mist does indeed vanish after the boy is dead.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Possibly the cruelest example in film history. Made worse by the fact that they were driving away from the advancing Army. The Cavalry was minutes behind them the entire time.
  • Chekhov's Gun: a literal example although one that never actually appears onscreen. is Cornell's shotgun. While the mist is too thick to risk going out for it once he remembers it, the biker who goes with the safety line tied around his wrist, ventured out to get that shotgun.
  • Coitus Ensues: The original story has David and Amanda randomly having sex just to have the former feel guilt about cheating on his wife. This is removed in the film.
  • Combat Tentacles: Whatever it was that drags poor Norm to his doom possesses these in spades.
  • Composite Character: Stella Hatlen in the radio drama. In addition to being a Gender Flip version of Mike Hatlen, she shares some of Jim Grondin's traits, in particular the revelation that she used to be a student of Mrs. Reppler's along with her sister Pauline (Jim himself is still in the story; he isn't Adapted Out, but rather just is never specifically identified by name).
  • Cool Old Guy: Dan.
  • Cool Old Lady: Irene, the lady who beans Mrs. Carmody with a can and torches a spider monster.
  • Cosmic Horror Story
  • Creator Cameo: Averted for once, although a store window is labeled "King's Pharmacy" in a nod to the author's usual bit parts.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several.
    • The MP webbed up in the pharmacy store is revealed to be in critical condition from spiders nesting under his skin, until he falls to the floor, and his entire torso explodes with thousands of spiders crawling out of his corpse.
    • Sally, after being stung by one of the giant insects, instantly has her throat swell up until she suffocates.
    • A couple of David's group members take acidic web strands from the giant spiders. While one is shot in the leg, the other is shot square in the face.
    • After accidentally setting himself on fire whilst attempting to drive the ptero-buzzards out of the market, Joe Eagleton lingers for at least a day in unbearable agony before finally succumbing to his burns. Made even worse because the other characters denied his request for a Mercy Kill in order to mount a risky expedition to the adjacent pharmacy for painkillers and antibiotics, which wound up getting Joe's brother killed. On top of that, although they returned with the right medicine, it turned out to be too late to save him anyway.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The film only. Probably an all-time winner, at least in this kind of films. With extra Downer Ending sauce and Irony shavings.
  • Daylight Horror: Much of the movie actually takes place during the day, but since it's so foggy outside, it's hard to tell either way.
  • Death by Adaptation: Stephanie Drayton, Billy Drayton, Amanda Dumfries and Mrs. Reppler's fates were left ambiguous at the end of the novel. Here...
    • Myron, having had his role largely swapped with Jim, dies in his place, getting eaten by a Grey Widower on the way to the car. Ambrose, who in the novella escapes back to the supermarket while making an aborted car park escape, ends up having his path to safety cut off by the same creatures, and gets pounced upon and audibly torn apart off-screen.
    • Sally, a minor character in the novella, gets an expanded role here, which does not end well for her.
    • Hattie dies in both versions, but her death in the film, via suicide, happens before her end scene death in the novella.
  • Death by Pragmatism: The film goes way past the original story with this. The pragmatic characters who try to help themselves are wrong all the time and mostly end up dead. A woman goes out into the mist at the beginning to save her kids and somehow ends up surviving with them. About three different scenarios go something like this:
    David: We're going to go do X to help everybody
    Carmody: You can't do that! It's blasphemy/sin/death!
    David and friends try to do something proactive anyway and end up completely screwed over
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The DVD includes an extra copy of the movie in black and white.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Averted; things get bad pretty quickly.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Dan Miller. In the book, he is killed during the trip to the pharmacy alongside Mike Hatlen and Buddy Eagleton. In the movie, he survives, only to die later during the Downer Ending when David shoots everyone in the Land Cruiser.
  • Downer Ending: With their car out of gas and no sign of escaping the mist, David shoots his son and everybody in the car, but comes up one bullet short to kill himself. He then steps out into the mist to be killed. But instead of monsters, the military emerge from the mist and destroy it as he screams in anguish, because it means that help was literally seconds away, and his actions were All for Nothing. You know an ending is dark when the death of the monster and humanity surviving doesn't make it much happier. Stephen King himself, who created the original short story The Mist, was shocked by the ending, and wished he had come up with it himself.
    King: "Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead."
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The two soldiers trapped in the supermarket hang themselves giving credence to the idea that the mist was caused by a secret government experiment. In the film, a third is left alive to try and explain the situation. Also, several people in the supermarket commit suicide by overdose. Also in the movie, the group of survivors plan to kill themselves to avoid being eaten by the creatures in the mist. This ends very badly.
    • Heroine Amanda Dumfries, who has been looking after Billy, discovers her friend Hattie has committed suicide by overdose after almost getting Billy killed during the monster insect attack.
  • Eaten Alive: The main cause of death in the movie.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The monsters in the mist are alien and unfathomable, and their existence seems impossible, as their biology is far removed from anything on earth. The tentacles on the largest monster, the Behemoth, certainly evoke a lovecraftian imagery as well. Although at the end of the day they are biological entities that can bleed and die.
  • Evil Luddite: Carmody seems to think that any scientific advance past 1940 is an affront to God. Stem cells and abortions are surprisingly her last appeals to Science Is Bad, although she appears to be going roughly in chronological order.
    Carmody: We are being punished! For what? For going against the will of God! For going against His forbidden rules of old! Walking on the moon! Or... or splitting His atoms! Or... or... or stem cells, and abortions!
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The MP found All Webbed Up in the pharmacy. And, even more horrifiying, David's wife, whose death we do not see...but her webbed-up corpse, split open.
  • Face of a Thug: The biker, who we barely know of, says this to Ms. Carmody after listening to her rants.
    "Hey, crazy lady. I believe in God too. I just don't think he's the bloodthirsty asshole you make him out to be."
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Mrs Carmody's interpretation of how one should be a Christian.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Norton, as he does not believe in the supernatural.
  • Fog of Doom: It's in the title.
  • Foreshadowing: A suspicious number of soldiers from the Army are seen going into the town early in the movie, and the three in the supermarket learn that their leave has just been cancelled, indicating there's something big happening that's being kept from the general public.
  • Food Chain of Evil: The bat/bird-things prey on the fly/wasp-things.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Before the events of the film Mrs. Carmody was just another civilian who was an antiques store owner and the town's local Cloudcuckoolander for being Holier Than Thou, but once these monsters rampage through the streets, she becomes the human Big Bad with her cult made up of other survivors.
  • The Fundamentalist: Mrs. Carmody takes her religious fundamentalism to psychotic extremes. She's outright trying for Dark Messiah — she'll save as many souls of the deserving as she can, but forget actual lives... or how she goes about deciding on the "deserving": throw them to the monsters and sacrifice children.
  • Gainax Ending: The book.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The soldiers of the US Army wear these, presumably to protect themselves from unknown pathogens or chemicals.
  • Gender Flip: In the radio play adaptation, town selectman Mike Hatlen is town selectwoman Stella Hatlen. She still shares her book counterpart's fate of winding up as spider chow.
  • Gentle Giant: The "Impossibly Tall Creature", a skyscraper-sized monster that appears at the end. Well, at least it doesn't instantly attack the humans' car.. It's so large (larger in the book, but still utterly gigantic in the film) that it probably doesn't even notice them. Which, given everything else, is probably for the best.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: What finally manages to take out Ollie the assistant manager.
  • Giant Spider: Or at least multi-legged things that spin acidic webbing..
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In the first day the survivors were logical yet fearful as they were trapped in a store. As the story progresses; everyone but David's group becomes god fearing cult zealots who believe their leader is a vessel of God with divine protection and that they are only safe by offering blood sacrifices to the monsters.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Jim, one of the members of the pharmacy expedition, is reduced to a gibbering mess upon seeing the spiders hatch from the MP's body. He joins Carmody's cult after he recovers slightly.
  • God Is Evil: Mrs Carmody believes that God can only be appeased through blood and sacrifice. She believed that the event mirrored passages from her bible and she wanted people to repeat The Binding of Isaac in order to appease him. At first people didn't believe her but when one of the insects had lost interest in her after landing on her, they started agreeing with her beliefs and believed that Carmody had divine protection by being God's vessel.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene at the end of the film where David shoots his son and the other three passengers. Then you hear a scream of pure anguish.
  • Government Conspiracy: Although it is never stated outright, the secretive Arrowhead Project at the Shaymore military base is believed by most of the characters to be the cause of the disaster. In the movie one of the soldiers in the store confirms this theory.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Was that shotgun really worth it?
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: The first guy who runs, bleeding, into the store.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Mrs. Carmody. Big time. And it is done almost disturbingly well, as, when Ollie kills her, the emotion the viewer experiences is pure joy and satisfaction.
    • Brent Norton. Primarily it is because of how stubborn and how much of a Straw Vulcan he is. Despite the fact there are monsters outside the mist, he firmly keeps saying this is all because David wants to "get back at him" for some lawsuit that occurred before the events of the book. The movie makes him way worse and he is just completely as unlikable as Mrs. Carmody, but without all the Large Ham moments.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Once the people in the store are deprived of technology and social structure, they'll start listening to anyone with a solution to their problems. Carmody's cult starts sacrificing people because they believe it's the only thing keeping the monsters at bay and because they don't want to be sacrificed next. As Ollie cynically puts it;
    Ollie: "As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another."
  • Holier Than Thou: Mrs. Carmody.
  • A House Divided: Roughly half the cast are more interested in bickering with each other than actual survival.
  • Humanity Is Insane: As Ollie calmly illustrates when the humans start tearing each other apart: "As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another."
  • Human Sacrifice: Mrs. Carmody persuades her cult to start doing this to appease God and the creatures outside in the mist. Ironically, it probably did the exact opposite and just attracted more of them to the scene of an easy meal.
  • Humans Are Bastards: It's pretty disgusting and pathetic how quickly anarchy takes over after people took shelter in the supermarket. As Amanda disbelievingly points out, it doesn't even take two days!
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: If they get scared enough, humans become downright monsters, which is actually the point of the whole story. The "monsters" from the mist are just animals (granted, dangerous, mostly predatory alien ones) doing what comes naturally.
  • Idiot Ball: Nobody thinks that attracting creatures with light will end badly. The smart thing during the night is to keep it dark (humans have decent night vision).
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Each chapter of the novella is headed with a synopsis of that chapter.
  • Jerkass: Several characters in the store, mainly Jim and Brent. But the ultimate one has to be Mrs. Carmody, a horrid religious bitch who slowly goes from a mere annoyance to pure evil.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite being nothing short of unpleasant, Mrs. Carmody did advise against venturing outside the grocery store, warning anybody who did leave that they would die out in the mist. Every group that attempted to escape was attacked, with fatalities occurring each time. Justified in that most of those who followed her most likely survived, or at least were not shown to have the same grim outcome as her naysayers did in the film adaptation.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: By the end of the movie, it is openly surprising and infuriating that the main characters don't kill Jim Grondin. First, he disbelieves that there is anything in the mist and says they're cowards for not letting Norm go out - then when they open the back gate and Norm is attacked by a giant, mouthed, clawed tentacle monster, Jim doesn't help as Norm is slowly dragged outside, but simply stands there gaping in terror. Even these might be forgiven as first he had no idea there were monsters out there, and the first sight of a monster might make anyone freeze up in shock. But after that it's absurd: when all of the alien wasps and pterodactyls are attracted to the light from the lanterns they have in the windows, the main characters realize this and start turning them off - while Jim panics and for no discernible reason starts frantically running around turning on all of their battery-powered floodlights. The monsters are attracted by the extra lights and many people die. After that, when they're in the pharmacy, and the acid-spiders show up, instead of staying quiet like everyone else and hoping not to attract their attention, Jim panics yet again and starts shouting uncontrollably. Seriously, at that point, why doesn't anyone just kill Jim to ensure their own survival?
  • Kaiju: At one point near the end, the survivors encounter a colossal, tentacled beast easily as tall as a skyscraper. Their only saving grace is that it doesn't even notice them as it walks past, but it really drives home the hopelessness of the situation.
  • Karmic Death: Mrs. Carmody's very well-deserved date with two revolver bullets near the end.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire is very effective against the monsters. A torch takes down one of the pterodactyl monsters, Irene uses an aerosol flamethrower to kill a spider monster, and the military uses flamethrowers to clear away the mist at the end.
  • Knight Templar: Mrs. Carmody again.
  • Large Ham: Marcia Gay Harden takes the cake for this. She takes a religious woman and makes her go from relatively sane to completely insane and it works. Also note that Harden is playing VERY against type.
  • Lawful Stupid: Every member of Mrs. Carmody's cult follows her commands, no matter how insane or reprehensible they may sound to the audience's ears.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Meek, unassuming assistant manager Ollie Weeks proves that he's actually pretty handy with a pistol, much to the surprise and unease of his boss. He makes every shot he takes with his handgun, a phenomenal feat considering how terrifying and weird the monsters are, while maintaining presence of mind enough to refuse to take shots that would endanger other people. Well, right up until he has to kill a person and has a nervous breakdown because of it... In general, he handles the crisis/subsequent nightmare better than everybody else except for David, but he is the main protagonist so it is expected.
  • Logical Weakness: As huge and dangerous they are, giant spiders and centipedes are still harmed by ordinary bug spray. The latter was cut out of the final draft however.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Unusually enough it ends up being this in the movie. At the very end, the seemingly unstoppable Mist is killed by the military. Though you can't call it a happy ending for David.
  • Mama Bear: Call her what you will, but the woman in the beginning who leaves the store alone proves she is one. Could you leave your young children alone without trying to get back to them? Oh and she survives and rescues her kids. And though the movie doesn't go into it, it's possible that she survived due to leaving early when there may have been fewer creatures about.
  • Mauve Shirt: The Eagleton’s, the biker, Cornell, Hattie, Bud and Myron, all of whom have some impact on the plot and a decent amount of scenes, but less focus than the core characters.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did the flying scorpion not sting Mrs. Carmody simply because it was an animal that acted unpredictably (as animals do), or did Mrs. Carmody's prayer really have something to do with it? And at the end, she says that by sacrificing Billy and Amanda the monsters will be dissuaded, and Billy and Amanda are among the last characters to die before the mist is cleaned up.
  • Moral Myopia: Mrs. Carmody is shot by a good guy after commanding her flock to sacrifice an innocent young boy to the monsters that invaded before slipping even harder and screaming "KILL THEM ALL!". The response from one of the flock: "You murdered her!" The book's narration by David even notes that no one spoke up to point out that she had been planning exactly that for his son.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The army is responsible for the disaster, and simply flees from the area at the onset. Averted at the end of the film version. The military eventually deploys in force, and begins to clear out the Mist ecology.
    • Fleeing is probably too strong a word. The small research facility probably did not have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with the creatures, so cutting out and coming back with properly trained and equipped reinforcements was the smart play. Note how the military personnel at the end aren't even bothering to be stealthy. The whole point is to draw the creatures (who never display any degree of intelligence) out into the open where they can be cut down or incinerated.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When Mrs. Carmody's cult starts to attack the surviving military officer, you can see Mrs. Carmody's shocked expression basically saying this, possibly her one moment of true sanity in the whole film... and then it melts away as she turns around and orders him thrown to the monsters as a sacrifice.
      • That was probably paranoid fear, but it was still a confusing moment. What was even confusing was that after the monster did kill Jessup, the people in her group all then slowly turned back to look at her as she spoke about whether or not the monsters would return. The two guys in the front were slowly smiling, giving off feelings of no remorse, but not everyone who turned back to look at her did seem pleased, somewhat giving off a feeling of 'what did I just do', and even Mrs. Carmody herself looked confused when she saw the way everyone was staring at her.
    • Ollie has a short breakdown after gunning down Mrs. Carmody. Sure, she was a fanatic madwoman, and convinced her cult to use people as monster chow, but Ollie still felt the guilt of killing another human being.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Inverted. "Carmody" should be the name of your sweet high school music teacher, right? Not an evil cult leader.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Irene Reppler, the elderly school teacher (Frances Sternhagen), fries a giant acid-spitting spider with a lighter and a can of bug-spray, all the while having a terrifying facial expression in that way that only old ladies can. She also clocks Mrs. Carmody in the face with a can of peas, reminds her that the old testament was OK with stoning people to death, and then said there was plenty more where that came from. King has a knack for writing about capable OAPs. (In the novella, David considers her the most competent member of his group, except maybe Ollie.)
  • New England Puritan: Mrs. Carmody is primarily known around town for her rabid faith. However, she ends up getting a following after a mysterious mist envelops the town, trapping the survivors in a supermarket.
  • Nice Girl: Sally and Amanda.
  • No Ending: The book, lampshaded.
  • No Name Given: The woman with the kids at home.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The creatures that arrive with the mist are undeniably dangerous, but they don't act out of evil or hatred for mankind, but simple animal instinct, which of course highlights the depths humans are willing to stoop to in order to survive...
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Several deaths are not actually witnessed, but based on what the people inside the store can tell, it's not pretty out there.
  • Not So Invincible After All: The creatures in the mist hold their own more than fine against frightened, trapped civilians, but they are no match against trained soldiers armed with automatic weapons and flamethrowers.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: In the novella, the store's manager Bud Weeks comes across as sort of low-level version of this.
  • Ominous Fog: The entire setup.
  • One-Woman Wail: The last ten minutes or so. Incidentally, the track used is "The Host of Seraphim" by Dead Can Dance, who provided most of the One-Woman Wail in the film that popularized it, Gladiator.
  • Only Sane Man: David, to begin with at least.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Toby Jones (Ollie Meeks) has a full-on English accent for one line near the end of the movie.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The Giant Spiders spin horribly corrosive webs and lay eggs inside corpses (and at least one still-living person), and those are the most typical creatures about. Others include the four-winged pterosaur-bats, a largely-unseen creature whose cephalopod tentacles have mouths instead of suckers, and the... err.. six-legged behemoth covered in prehensile tendrils. Another creature, seen mostly in silhouette only, vaguely resembles a praying mantis the size of a small house.
  • Papa Wolf: David.
  • Pet the Dog: A minor one, but the cult evidently let the manager back inside after he got separated from the others, despite the fact that his buddies killed their leader. This suggests that, without the poisonous influence of Mrs. Carmody, the cultists quickly reverted back to being ordinary, scared, more-or-less decent people.
  • Religion of Evil: After Mrs. Carmody is able to create a cult, she convinces them to sacrifice the soldier to the creatures to keep them at bay and nearly sacrificed Billy if she wasn't killed by Ollie.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In the film, Mrs. Carmody ends up being entirely correct in saying that everyone should stay holed up in the grocery store in order to survive. Her reasoning behind why, however, is completely skewed and ends up creating more problems than it solves given that it involves forming a tyrannical religious cult that is totally down with human sacrifices.
  • Sanity Slippage: This happens to the majority of the store patrons, but special mention goes to Jim, who grows more and more shell-shocked from the monsters and the deaths caused by them, before he finally snaps and joins Mrs. Carmody's cult.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Just as the mist rolls into town, a man decides to try and flee to his car, ignoring Stan's warnings. He fumbles with the keys just as the fog engulfs him. His fate is ambiguous, but judging by his terrified scream and what happens later on in the movie it probably wasn't pretty.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the ending, after running out of gas in their unsuccessful attempt at escaping the mist, the lead character mercy-kills his entire party including his own son (it would've been group suicide instead of euthanasia, but he was one bullet short). About one minute later the military finally shows up with tanks and flamethrowers, along with cars and cars full of survivors, meaning the insane cult they had just left to escape likely survived. To top it all off, among the survivors, he sees the woman brave enough to leave the supermarket at the beginning of the movie, and her children are fine as well.
  • Shout-Out:
    • David is painting Roland of Gilead, from Stephen King's opus The Dark Tower, when the storm hits. The monsters, and the implications of the Arrowhead Project also seem similar to the Todash monsters in that series.
      • Furthermore, when the MC is describing how one's mind opens up after experiencing a certain amount of horror, he mentions just accepting things like the dead walking and talking, and roses singing.
    • Another design in the room is that of the poster of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Shouldn't come as a surprise that he directed a similar movie called The Fog (1980).
    • The line "My life for you," spoken by Mrs. Carmody, has been said by a number of villainous characters in the Dark Tower books. Most notably Trashcan Man in The Stand.
    • The siren that goes off as the fog comes rolling in sounds similar to one that went off every time creepy stuff was about to go down in another story about a town shrouded in mist and filled with monsters. It's likely (although not confirmed) that the original novella influenced the game. note 
    • The dead creatures liquefy in the same way as the "things" in From a Buick 8, another work by King involving otherworldly monsters.
    • The painting used on the CD cover of Pan's Labyrinth in the studio.
    • Amanda Dumfries - no relation to Andy Dufresne?
  • Skyward Scream: David makes one at the very end after he finds out the mercy kill he gave his son and surviving friends has been for nothing.
  • The Soulsaver: Let's just say that Mrs. Carmody is not the kind of person who knocks at your door asking for a few minutes of your time to talk about Jesus. Well, all right, she does offer you a chance to repent and join her. If you refuse, however, she has... a very extreme opinion about what to do with heathens when The Lord Almighty is pissed off.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As noted in One-Woman Wail, the survivors' drive away from the supermarket across the misty, web-entangled New England landscape — and under a gigantic Eldritch Abomination — is set to Dead Can Dance's "The Host of Seraphim", making it even more haunting. And then it starts again when David sees the Army coming in through the mist after he just shot his son and companions.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The fate of the woman with the kids at home was left ambiguous after she left in the book. The film showed that she and her kids managed to survive.
    • Jim is killed in the novella, but is presumably still alive in the film.
    • Narrowly subverted by Dan Miller, who dies in both versions. In the book, he is killed during the pharmacy expedition. In the film, he is one of the few who actually makes it to the car out, almost surviving the entire movie.
  • Stern Teacher: Mrs. Reppler. David states in the novella that she had "terrified generations of third-graders".
  • Straw Vulcan: Norton and his group of skeptics who leave the store because they don't believe there are any monsters in the mist. Lets back up a step. If the skeptics are right about the mist being natural and stay in the store then the weather will blow over in a few hours to a day or someone will come by looking for the grocery store and update them on the situation. They are on their way after a short delay, at most a minor inconvenience. If the other groups are right about the mist and there are monsters outside the best bet for survival is not to go outside to be picked off by monsters. The risk analysis of the situation, however low the probability of lethal monsters, would point to staying in the well stocked grocery store and not wandering off. So of course they choose the 'rational choice' after concluding there are no monsters and immediately decide to leave. Norton tells David right before he leaves that if he's wrong the joke will be on him. Poor decision or not, he is at least willing to admit that much. In the novella, David thinks that Norton is, at some level, committing deliberate suicide.
  • Take Our Word for It: When the men that wander into the mist in spite of David's warnings, they tie a rope to one of them just to be safe. A few seconds after walking into the fog, the rope starts to rapidly shoot out into the mist and uses up the entirety of its length before rising high into the air and dropping back down. The people inside the store pull the rope back to see that in the movie, the person at the end is half the man he used to be, while in the book, there is nothing left at the end of the rope, which is covered in blood and appears to have been chewed through.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Despite Mrs Carmody's insanity, she was right that nobody should leave the store because of the creatures within the mist.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Neighbor Brent Norton disregards David's and his own common sense to prove himself by walking straight outside into the creepy fog. The result shouldn't be surprising.
    • The survivors decide to take Mrs. Carmody's advice and use Human Sacrifice as a way to appease God and the creatures in the mist. That kind of stuff will only draw more monsters to the immediate area around the store. Predators swarm at the smell of blood or the chance for an easy meal, so sacrificing people was actually the stupidest thing they could've done. The mist creatures seem to hunt by sense of smell or hearing because of low visibility, so attracting them to the store with an easy, injured meal would've also alerted them to the people hiding inside of it.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mrs. Carmody, who turns half the people trapped in the store into religious fanatics, making it increasingly more dangerous for those in the store that still have their sanity. And most watchers are likely to be thrilled upon watching her being "disposed of".
  • Vagina Dentata: The tentacle monster's mouth.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In the "Notes" section of Skeleton Crew, King writes that the storm on Long Lake in Bridgton and the subsequent day-after trip to the grocery store for supplies went pretty much as he wrote it in the story. While he was in the store, though, he got a humorous vision of a prehistoric bird flying around and crashing into things—which image became the impetus for "The Mist."
  • Villainous Breakdown: While clearly insane, Mrs. Carmody remains rather collected for the most part, with the occasional aggressive outburst. However, it isn't until she catches David and the others trying to steal food and escape the store that she completely wigs out and screams for Billy, Amanda, and eventually the whole gang to be sacrificed to the monsters.
  • Wham Shot: A powerfully unexpected shot kicks off the infamous twist ending. After David mercy kills the other survivors on his car, he exits the car and looks into the mist, shouting for the monsters to come and kill him. David sees something large in the mist, and his expression changes from one of desperation to one of shock. The shot turns around, and looks over David's shoulder into the mist. The large object emerges from the mist. Instead of a monster like what David and the audience expects, it's a tank from the US army.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Carmody's remaining cult isn't seen again after David and his group kill her and leave the store for good. The cult was very likely saved by the army, as no one had any intention of leaving the store. Either that, or their earlier behavior wound up attracting more monsters. This is unlikely, however; as they weren't doing anything to attract any new attention, nor did they seem willing enough to sacrifice Bud Brown, who was pretty much the only unbeliever left in the store, to avenge Mrs. Carmody.
    • Frank Darabont reportedly wanted to show that the cult survived by showing them in one of the rescue trucks at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, most of the extras and actors were unavailable to do this, as their parts were finished.
    • The other children are conspicuously missing in the final scenes. Which gives off some unsettling implications.
  • Wilhelm Scream: The infamous scream can be faintly heard amidst the man's other screams as the spider monsters mutilate him in the mist during the escape attempt from the store near the movie's end.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mrs. Carmody convinces her cult to sacrifice Billy in hopes of making the creatures lose interest in the cult (however given that she was arguing with the protagonist during this time, this may have been more for personal gain rather than appeasing the creatures) however Ollie kills her before they are able to succeed
    • In the film, after they escape the store and end up stranded when their vehicle runs out of gas, David, wanting to spare everyone the fate of being killed by whatever is in the mist, shoots everyone in the car, including his eight year old son, Billy.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Norm's behavior has shades of this.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In the novella, David grows increasingly attracted to Amanda (who is also married) - while still loving his wife, of course! - and they eventually have sex to relieve their tension. King himself says he felt ambiguous about this (despite leaving it in after an edit) and the film understandably leaves the subplot out.


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