There’s a growing genre in Hollywood that we like to call “tragedy porn.” It can be described as follows: Just as porn films introduce characters for the sole purpose of getting them naked and screwed, so does tragedy porn (Crash and Babel come to mind) march out a cast simply to have the worst possible things happen to them. The Mist (Nov. 16), the latest in the endless chain of Stephen King adaptations, may just set the tragedy-porn standard. For sheer gratuitous misery, no other pseudo- Armageddon-brings-carnage-and-suffering film has come close.
The plot (really just filler in between the terrible things happening) centers on David Drayton (Thomas Jane), an earnest everyman who wakes up to find his quiet Maine (of course) town immersed in a storm. The next morning, after surveying the damage and dropping some unsubtle exposition about experiments at a nearby military base, he drives to the grocery store with his five-year-old son, leaving his sugar-sweet wife at home. Once they’re inside, the mysterious mist hits, mayhem ensues, and the rest of the movie is an ascending ladder of repulsive deaths and groundless agony.