“There’s something in the mist!”
If there is one line from the 2007 Frank Darabont adaptation that would have been apropos to include in the pilot of the 2017 Spike TV series it would have been that line as it so succinctly captures the core of the story. Interestingly enough the series opens with a scene similar to the opening of the ABC TV series – Lost. The opening shot reveals a man lying on the open ground in a forest with a dog by his side. The series loses any possibility of closing with a bookend sequence when the dog becomes the first victim of the mist. Particular to the Mist series is the opening scene where a man, Bryan Hunt, who is military and according to the badges on his fatigues part of the Arrowhead Project, swatting away a spider from his face. Throughout the pilot, several other characters swat away bugs of various types. Are these characters being marked in a certain special way? Only time will tell.
From there the pilot jumps to Bridgeville, Maine which is the main setting of the show. When I heard The Mist would be adapted as a TV series I was hoping for it to follow the book ending and have the survivors of the novella out traveling and searching for possible friendly territory. Alas, that is not to be. Once again, we have eastern parts of Canada standing in for Maine. For Haven, it was Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The Mist returns to Nova Scotia, headquartered at St. Johns and filming in areas nearby. The cast of The Mist is large and the rest of the episode introduces them while in the background lurks the slowly encroaching mist.
The focus is on main core of characters which is the Copeland family – Kevin, Eve, and their teenage daughter – Alex. This is a family of tensions that outwardly appears perfect but is far from it. Alex’s best friend is gender challenged Adrian who professes to be gay yet seems to have much more than best friend interests in Alex. The rest of the cast includes the sheriff who loses his deputy early to the mist. His son is the town high school jock and team quarterback and accused of raping Alex. There is a naturalist Natalie Raven who also loses her husband to the mist not because of monsters but because of a crazed man. There is also Mia with shady overtures and a drug addiction problem.
The pilot is all set up and because it pushes through so many characters and lets the mist roll into town within the space of fifty minutes there is a ticking off the check boxes feel to it. It’s a tall order to pull off so many items in such a short time and the show may have done better to slow things down and leave the mist’s appearance until the second episode.
Despite the rushed nature of the pilot, the seeds for several intriguing things have been put into play. The main one is unlike the novella and movie, the characters in this version will not be restricted to one location but spread throughout the town. Production values look strong and the kills are appropriately gruesome and, with one instance, look very convincing. There are nice touches done when characters are in the mist with blurring effects almost as if they are losing their solidity and becoming part of it. There are plenty of characters trapped in a mall which potentially sets up a Day of the Dead vibe but also a bit worrisome, an Under the Dome one too.
The pilot definitely creaks a bit from having to much stuffed into it but there is enough to intrigue and the – four episodes to hook an audience rule – in is in play here. As Bryan Hunt recovers his memories and the show reveals more about what the mist is about and what it is capable of, the emotional stakes should rise. And if the show can grab the paranoiac tones of The Monsters Are Out On Maple Street where the residents of Bridgeville begin to turn on one another, this could turn out to be a good watch.