the better truth

the better truth

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Mist (2007)

The King Knows His Crowd

I went to see Steven King’s “The Mist”. Mr. King is aptly named. Over 43 of his creations have been turned into films. I’ve sat through my fair share. Ironically “The Shinning”, which I thought was the strongest, was so repellent to King that he produced is own version of the tale. I didn’t see it but I have a hard time believing he outdid Kubrick. Another of his works that made an impression: “Apt Pupil”. That film really illustrates why King is popular – it’s not us vs. the bogey men – it’s us. Behind every all American teenager lies a Nazi SS Commandant. King seems to speak from the heart in his work. It’s not that he’s a creep; he just knows, deep down, everyone is.

“The Mist” is the equivalent of a good fast food meal: competently crafted, filling and forgettable. I confess I left halfway through due to stomach troubles but I feel confident in saying “I got the picture”. Once again its not the creepy crawlers coming out of the fog – it’s the reactions of a crowd of normal people facing “the end”. King’s motto should be: a normal person is someone you don’t know very well. The good ole people in a good ole state go to the good ole store in the good ole town and come face to face with… themselves.

King lives in Maine. I visited there once and I can vouch for the fact that “fog” in that state is the real deal. Imagine a cold steam room where you stretch out your arm and can’t see your hand. King, once again, playing on the personal, has brought all the Maine-fog anxiety to life: if you can’t see your own hand – what are you to make of the person standing in front of you? It gets really scary when there’s no fog, no abstraction, no opaqueness – just you and your unobstructed view of all the normal people. Once again King seems to have been born to tell these stories. I heard this about his childhood: When he was a toddler his mother left him to play with a friend who lived near a railroad track. The mother of the friend left them playing in the back yard. A few hours latter King was found wandering the streets of the upright, middle class neighborhood. He stood out. A beautiful young boy walking alone, covered in blood. He doesn’t remember what happened. The mother found the playmate on the tracks, dead. He’d been run over by the train. Who knows if this is merely an apocryphal story. King’s life lesson remains: It’s not the monsters in the mist; it’s the monsters in our midst.

No comments: