The Mist

Good review on Open Left of the movie The Mist. Saw it yesterday and found it a compelling and creepy blend of John Carpenter's Thing and Arthur Miller's Crucible.

To those who love the Stephen King novella on which the movie is based, yes, Mrs. Carmody still gets hit in the chest with a can of peas but she has taken on special significance as a character in the Bush era. One critic of the movie says "What scares me? Cancer. Osama bin Laden. Teenagers. But not a giant land octopus." Well, what scares me is a fundamentalist Christian in the White House appointing zombie end-timers to scores of government posts. The movie presents a twin abyss: the Lovecraftian horror of unexplained, utterly malevolent forces and the dark human tendency to listen to people with voices in their heads when things get frightening.

An interesting interchange occurs in the back of the alien-besieged supermarket after the land octopus and other critters have struck: a small group of characters confess to each other they have no faith in human nature, and believe that everyone else in the store will eventually succumb to the non-stop persuasions of a Christian millennialist who sees the aliens as harbingers of the apocalypse. This is increasingly plausible: millions of Americans believe they will be levitated into space when Jesus returns, and we have seen Biblical zealots (some phony, some not) reach the highest levels of government power in the last decade--Tom Delay, anyone?--with a special boost from a particularly mind-boggling mass crime.

By the end of the movie only a handful of people remain who have some belief in rational, empirical, Enlightenment-style principles. They are literally embattled, surrounded by knife-wielding religious converts. The creepy crawlies delivering face bloating stings and bursting out of chests and such could be taken literally, but one could also see them as an occult double of our political culture, an increasingly ugly world where torture is official policy and statesmen must swear fealty to an invisible, omniscient God or be tarred as "anti-family."