The Mist‘s ending is still one of the most shocking final scenes ever featured in a movie. The sci-fi horror based on Stephen King’s novella was released in 2007. Even though over a decade has passed since it was debuted, The Mist is still talked about to this day, mainly because of its controversial jaw-dropping ending.
When an entire town is blanketed with the mist that hid the giant insects and creatures, a group of people trapped inside a supermarket quickly turned on each other. Following the breakdown of soceity, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) makes the tough decision to lead a small group, including his 8-year-old son, out of the supermarket. But, when their car breaks down, David comes to the conclusion that death is inevitable and imminent, so the group consents to a mercy killing. With the four bullets left, David kills his son as well as Dan (Jeffrey DeMunn), Amanda (Laurie Holden), and Irene (Frances Sternhagen). But, when David goes out to offer himself to the mist, U.S. Army vehicle pulled up revealing that they were minutes away from safety.
The Mist‘s ending was heartbreaking, shocking, and above all, incredibly daring. It was a bold move on the part of director Frank Darabont that made The Mist one of the most memorable horror movies in recent memory. It would have been grim enough to end with David shooting his group of survivors, but to take it a step further and showing that the group was mere moments away from being saved was an absolute soul-crusher. Unsurprisingly, The Mist‘s ending proved divisive – some loved the bleakness while others found it overwhelming – but everyone could agree that they didn’t expect that type of conclusion.
When Darabont signed on to write and direct The Mist, he planned from an early stage to deviate from the book. In King’s novel, the ending was much more ambiguous with a sense of hope. David did lead his son and a group out of down with their safety dependent on how far the car could get them, but it was implied that they were close to finding refuge.
The movie version of The Mist took on a much more definitive ending, one that was probably debated over a lot before being made final. It’s very difficult to land such an ending as it could potentially ruin the perception of an entire movie but Darabont – and Jane’s haunted performance – made it work. A viewer can feel his pain by just the look on David’s face as some of the other supermarket survivors pass by on the truck. Even King was vocal about his support of Darabont’s ending in an interview with CinemaBlend:
“When Frank said that he wanted to do the ending that he was going to do, I was totally down with that. I thought that was terrific. And it was so anti-Hollywood – anti-everything, really! It was nihilistic. I liked that. So I said you go ahead and do it.”
The Mist could be considered a monster movie but it touched on much deeper ideas. It’s difficult to prepare for what people will do in dire circumstances and that notion was on full display in the movie. Not only did the supermarket survivors turn on each other, but many of them made the already dangerous situation even more troubling. David was put in a precarious spot and he made a decision that nobody should be forced to make. He carried out an agreed-upon plan that he thought would benefit the fate of his group. It may have not worked out in the way David hoped but it ensured The Mist had a truly unforgettable ending.
Next: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best