Stephen King may be the best story teller of his generation. His imagination is awesome. He writes two kinds of story. One sort is thoughtful, character-driven tales that draw you in by making you care about the people involved, like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (both directed by Frank Darabont, who directed this one, too) and Hearts in Atlantis. The other sort is gore-fest schlock like his recent, perfectly awful book, Cell (soon to be a major awful motion picture!), and Dreamcatcher.
(Actually, there is a third type, the head-scratching megastory The Dark Tower, which ran to seven long books, not nearly as interesting as the Harry Potter series. I, for one, hope he has that out of his system now.)
This one falls into the second category. It’s done well enough, for what it is, but what it is isn’t anything to shout about. A selection of small-town people are caught in a supermarket as a mysterious mist closes around them. There are off-the-shelf monsters out there in the mist. People start to die. Who will be next? Who cares?
SPOILER WARNING: This was one of the most awful endings I have ever seen. Simply terrible. I do not object to unhappy endings, as if, for instance, the alien creatures took over the planet and everybody died. But here’s what happens: Our hero, his little son, a woman who has been strong in the face of terror, and two older people who also showed a lot of common sense, manage to get to the hero’s car and try to make their escape. No one else has the nerve to go. The car runs out of gas. Now they’re waiting for the monsters to arrive and eat them alive. They have a gun, and four bullets for five people. Without really talking about it, they agree that a quick death would be better than being eaten alive. So our hero shoots them all in the head, including his own son … then the ground begins to shake, and the brave man waits to be eaten … but it’s the Army, arriving in the nick of time! Hooray, we’re saved … uh, oops!
What stupid drivel! What execrable writing, what willful avoidance of everything that went before! These people had fought hard to get real close to survival. And then, with no monsters in sight yet, they just fucking give up? They agree to be killed? And he agrees to do it? I don’t think so! You at least wait until you’re under attack, then, sure, I’d kill my son to save him from that. But not until they’re ripping into the car. And he wouldn’t have, either. I just can’t understand this. Was it done to shock us? If so, it was a cheap and dirty and below-the belt shock … and fuck all of you who had anything to do with this abomination. You should only never work again in this town.