A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Stephen King-inspired horror film features monsters (who proceed to rip up bodies), unseen threats, and bloody injuries and deaths. People use axes and guns against the monsters and also hurt each other (shooting, hitting, stabbing). There's intense suspense that could make younger kids very anxious, as well as several suicides -- and the final scene is especially upsetting. One scene shows cigarette smoking, and a few characters get visibly drunk. Language includes multiple uses of "f--k," plus other profanity.
What's the story?
THE MIST begins with a conflict between neighbors in Castle Rock, Maine. Following a raucous storm, neighbors David (Thomas Jane) and (Andre Braugher), who share a troubled past, agree to head into town together for supplies. At the store, they face more immediate danger, and their tenuous alliance breaks down. Dan (Jeffrey DeMunn) arrives bloody-nosed and stunned, announcing, "There's something in the mist!" The camera turns to show the scary, opaque wall rolling in. It brings monsters -- tentacled, big-jawed, and prone to ripping people apart. Afraid of what they can't see, the trapped shoppers begin to blame each other, looking for order in end-of-days pronouncements (courtesy of a local fundamentalist played by Marcia Gay Harden) or in secret experiments conducted at a nearby military base. Tensions rise and paranoia grows as the confined characters argue, plan, and worry about their homes and families. David reluctantly takes charge of one group of survivors, but he's got his work cut out for him as more and more terrified individuals make bad choices and turn on one another.
Is it any good?
The Mist's moral and physical geographies are familiar, if excessively literal. Divisions occur between inside and outside, good and deranged. David's choices at each moment are shaped by his belief in what he sees and his distrust of other people's rationalizations. He's the film's most reliable guide, showing how fear makes populations strangely obedient, willing to accept any explanation that exonerates them and blames someone else. Though The Mist indicts blind belief (and features a stunning ending that differs from Stephen King's source novella), it remains burdened by generic clichés.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how people respond to being scared. Why do you think the characters react the way they do? How do you think you'd react in a high-stress situation? And, speaking of being scared, why do you think people are drawn to scary movies? What's the appeal of being frightened in the theater? What's scarier -- threats you can see, or those you can't? Why?
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