Review: The Mist by Stephen King

In the wake of a summer storm, terror descends…David Drayton, his son Billy, and their neighbor Brent Norton join dozens of others and head to the local grocery store to replenish supplies following a freak storm. Once there, they become trapped by a strange mist that has enveloped the town. As the confinement takes its toll on their nerves, a religious zealot, Mrs. Carmody, begins to play on their fears to convince them that this is God’s vengeance for their sins. She insists a sacrifice must be made and two groups—those for and those against—are aligned. Clearly, staying in the store may prove fatal, and the Draytons, along with store employee Ollie Weeks, Amanda Dumfries, Irene Reppler, and Dan Miller, attempt to make their escape. But what’s out there may be worse than what they left behind.

This exhilarating novella explores the horror in both the enemy you know—and the one you can only imagine.

The Mist by Stephen King. Published in 1980 for the short sotry collection Skeleton Crew. This edition was published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster. 165 pages.

While I’m not the world’s biggest King fan, I do love his earlier short stories. It has always been some of his scariest work. The Mist may not be the scariest, but it definitely delivers lots of chills.

This novella is a really fun creature story. One where you actually don’t see everything that is out there, but what you do see… oh boy. Watch out, it’s gonna kill ya! I love the fact that we don’t see everything that is out there. Who knows what else could be feet in front of you and you have no idea because the mist is so thick! There is a lot that gets left to the imagination. What you do see, and what is left to the imagination, makes your mind reel with the possibilities of what is out there! King does a really good job of balancing what you see and what is hidden.

The main horror of this novella is from the people trapped in the store. The Mist does a great job of showing how people handle a bad situation. I know we like to think everyone is going to be yippy skippy lets all work together to help each other survive…. but come on… that’s not the case. All humans are different. Some will try to help, others will be in shock. Some will turn to some sort of old religion for help, some might create a new religion to fit the narrative. Some will just flat out deny what is in front of them. Some will be so scared they are angry. Everyone acts differently and you don’t know what will happen until things go bad. This story does a great job of showing the emotions and handling of fear from ordinary people like you and I. This is also a great look at mob psychology. All the reactions feel very realistic. People are nuts!

Don’t expect a lot of answers here. You don’t know for sure what the mist is or where it came from. We have guesses and theories, but that is it. And the ending just….. ends. You do not have a clear answer to what happened to any of the characters that are left alive by the time the book ends. I’m not a really a big fan of stories that do that kind of ending, but it actually worked really well in this one.

Super quick read. Love the creatures that we get to see. Lots of fun suspense. Your imagination really gets a great work out here. I enjoyed the story a lot. The pacing is surprisingly quick. Nothing felt slow, even when the characters were just sitting around or napping. Great exploration of the mind trying to cope with what is going on.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Mist by Stephen King

  1. I have read many Kings novels and The Mist was pretty good. Short but good. I think this was him trying to channel his inner Lovecraft because like all Lovecraftian horror, the true scare factor remains in the unknown and how tiny we are in the depths of existence. The movie (which is good in its own way) kind of kills the idea of the unknown and man being tiny. I know everyone points to the extra ending where David shoots everyone in the car and then embarks into the fog to only be saved by a military unit. All the creatures and mist is being pushed out and thus leaving David to live with his decision. I hated that because the group embarking into the mist and leaving us hanging is what makes Lovecraftian horror good. We don’t know where the end is. To be unknown is what makes it terrifying. They could keep driving on for eternity in the fog and never find refuge or even death. To not have neither is where true madness and fear dwells.

  2. I agree 100% about the ending of the movie. Yes, it’s not a horrible ending… living with the choice is a terrible thought and scary knowing he has to live with it now… but like you said, the unknown aspect of the book ending was much more terrifying and painful, because of the unknown factor. Especially the unknown about the mist… did it spread to other cities? States? The whole world? Much more of a nail biter. And just the thought of David just sitting alone in the hotel not knowing what he was going to do now seemed much sadder then how the movie wrapped everything up for us.

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