The Mist - Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot" TV Episode Review
Written by Jersey John
Directed by Adam Bernstein and Christian Torpe
Written by Stephen King and Christian Torpe
Episode premiered on Spike on June 22nd, 2017
Alyssa Sutherland as Eve Copeland
Isuah Whitlock as Gus Redman
Bill Carr as Howard
Holly Deveaux as Zoe
Gus Birney as Alex Cunningham
Luke Cosgrove as Jay Heisel
Let me preface this review by saying that I am an enormous Stephen King fan. I remember being given The Green Mile as a gift when I was younger and when it was released in installments. I am a firm believer that the '90s TV mini-series adaptation of The Shining holds truer to the book than Kubrick's film. I religiously watch Storm of the Century at the beginning of every winter season. When I heard that King's novella The Mist (also a 2007 film) was being given its own television series, I was skeptical but still optimistic at the notion of the story being flushed out. Only so much was explored in its big screen form that making this episodic made my fan boy innards start to tingle.
The Mist explores the small town of Bridgton, Maine that is suddenly enveloped by a mysterious cloud that moves in from the mountains. While some shrug off the phenomenon, other residents quickly realize that hidden within the seemingly impenetrable mist are deadly monsters preventing their escape. Not everyone will survive and not all that die will fall victim to the monsters alone. Adding the dimension of multiple groups trapped in different locations across the town only adds to the tension as what waits in the mist claims its first victims.
There are so many promising things in the pilot episode of The Mist. Right from the start it is not pulling any of its punches; it is a horror show fist and foremost. There isn't any slow burn to try and trick the casual viewer into thinking this might be another quasi-heavy scifi show. In the first five minutes we are immediately wrapped in a sense of dread and just a small taste of gore. We are dropped into the middle of Bridgton and its characters, a healthy mix of varying personalities, some family oriented while others are off to the races murdering people or running from the impending doom of the mist. Town folk going about their lives, experiencing real world troubles and problems serves as a great juxtaposition for the horrors that are to come. Of course there are a few tropes that come along with this being a pilot. There is the ominous military runaway babbling about the horrors of the mist, a mysterious woman mixed up in some sort of trouble, small town police overstepping their authority and even a cute old conspiracy theory couple thrown in for good measure.
While some shows can bury a new audience in a web of initial plot lines, The Mist does a great job of slowly unveiling the nasty parts of what seems like it would be a picturesque town in just under an hour. Then the body count starts to rise as those who were out and about take shelter. Writing and dialogue are refreshingly strong. Time was taken to make sure that characters interact in a manner that feels fluid and natural, or as natural as they can when someone whose jaw was ripped off comes staggering out of the mist. Speaking of severed limbs and gore, the special effects are fantastic. There's a little bit of something for everyone: a dog ripped in two, a pitchfork to the guts, a bunch of head shots and some gross bugs are just the start for what I'm sure will be bloody good time.
While this is a great taste of what can come from a TV spin-off of a beloved Stephen King story, I will stay cautiously optimistic. This type of approach has been taken before, thinking back to shows such as Under the Dome (another King novella) and even Jericho, where towns are closed off by different but still familiar events. Both started relatively strong with critical praise but suffered from viewer drop offs and less than favorable reviews. It is way too early to tell whether The Mist will suffer the same fate but hopefully Spike TV can provide the appropriate amount of fan service this story deserves.