Frank Darabont’s track-record for adapting the works of Stephen King is impeccable. He helmed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile in the 1990s before releasing what many consider the crown jewel of his career: The Mist in 2007. Indeed, The Mist is included on just about every examination of the “best” horror of the 21st Century, a standout in terms of suspenseful storytelling and emotional impact. Of course, not everyone who’s seen the film agrees; even folks who loved The Mist are divided on a key element. I’m talking about that devastating conclusion.
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If you were shocked that a major studio allowed such a bleak and nihilistic ending, you should know that Darabont only agreed to helm the film if producers promised not to change his script in any way. It was a purposeful deviation from the source material—and an incredibly bold move. While fans were divided, King himself praised the work; according to IMDB, the author told the filmmaker his unique take legitimately scared him, and that he actually preferred it to the ending he had written.
In Darabont’s ending: After encountering the “Impossibly Tall Monster” on the road out of town, David Drayton (played by Thomas Jane) decides to euthanize his son (played by Nathan Gamble) and two other survivors after running out of gas in the mist, surrounded by the sounds of what they assume are hordes of tentacled beasties. When the fog clears, however, Drayton realizes that the tide has turned, watching in horror as the military leads a convoy of survivors out of town. You can relieve the gut-wrenching moment below.
Without personally venturing into debates regarding the merits and/or weaknesses of the shocking ending of The Mist, I was enthralled to discover that Stephen King uber-fan Paul Moore had taken it upon himself to re-edit the film’s conclusion. He calls the result the “Original Ending”, one that more accurately reflects how King’s novella really ended. To be clear, there is no happy ending in King’s The Mist, merely an open-endedness that left us wondering, free to make our own conjectures as to these characters’ ultimate fates. While it could have been equally bleak, Moore gives us something both harrowing and hopeful; while the survivors live another day, we’re left wondering if this otherworldly phenomenon will ever end.
Have a look and let us know what you think in the Comments section. What’s your opinion on The Mist’s shocking conclusion? Do you think the film would have been better with King’s original ending? Would changing the ending have diluted the film’s impact? Discuss!