They’re crawling out of The Mist: the terror, the monsters, the tragic characters of Stephen King’s imagination. It is the classic tale of small-town Maine meets nightmare dimension adapted from King’s 1980 novella, but painted over the rich canvas of a 10-part Spike miniseries.
When it debuts in June, the series will expand considerably on the setting and characters of King’s original work, allowing a deeper exploration of its themes of good and evil, human nature and morality – all with the author’s blessing. As The Boston Globe’s Isaac Feldberg wrote, “… when an e-mail to King himself, outlining ideas for how to adapt The Mist into a series, was met with emphatic support and one requirement — don’t do anything ordinary — everyone working on the series grew more keen to flesh out the world beyond the novella, bringing in fresh ideas and unfamiliar characters.”
The basic premise follows King’s script: citizens of fictional Bridgeville, Maine find themselves marooned indoors (in this case, a shopping mall and a church), when the mist rolls in. A few outdoor stragglers are rapidly devoured by the fog’s embedded demons.
“Soon it becomes clear that whatever is in the mist is not natural, and if you go out there, you will die,” said The Mist creator and showrunner Christian Torpe.
What lies inside may not be much better, as the terrified and panicked hostages begin to turn on one another. The first trailer delivers a horrifying preview of this wrecked world:
With its small-town setting, there is a presumed familiarity between characters even before the fog, and The Mist picks up on and develops these rich relationships – and how they evolve or devolve in the savagery of the mystery fog – as a primary plot catalyst.
“We had a rule in the writers’ room that if you ever needed the mist to move the story forward you were in trouble, because we wanted the story to be propelled by the characters, and their reactions to the mist — not the mist itself,” Torpe told The Boston Globe.
For Eve Copeland, the mist, “… brings some stuff out in Eve that makes her willing to do whatever she needs to do,” said Alyssa Sutherland, whose character’s uneven personal history has made her wildly protective of her daughter, a survivor of sexual assault:
Eve is just one character of many – with 10 episodes, the series leaves ample room for rich development. As the small town cast flows through a vast interconnected matrix of intensifying carnage, how each person reacts reveals an enormous amount about them and about humanity.
“People’s true natures start to come out,” said Darren Pettie, who plays sheriff Connor Heisel on the show. Pettie is one of many cast members who speak to the show’s revealing portrayal of human nature in this Entering The Mist featurette:
As a prolific cultural force – King has written ore than 50 novels and nearly 200 short stories – the author of The Mist had heavily influenced the show’s cast long before filming began.
“I grew up in a very small town in Denmark,” said Torpe. “What I would do every Monday, I would go to the local library, so I would get first access to all the new books coming in, and it would always be the Stephen King books. … I think Stephen King understands human nature. To take his knowledge of fear and humanity and put it into a character and have that character evolve as he sees fit, that’s really the mastery of his books.”
Frances Conroy, who plays the misanthropic, evangelical Nathalie Raven in the series, spoke to the power of the everyday colliding with supernatural violence. “He makes people seem like your neighbor, a recognizable kind of a person, and then, with one word, he just kind of takes you right off the cliff to this moment of great fear.”
The full Influences of Stephen King video is worth a watch:
The Mist is just one of many projects in the queue for Spike, which is revving up to evolve into Paramount Network in early 2018. Yellowstone, a drama centered on the existential struggles of the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, will star Kevin Costner and will be the first series developed specifically for the rebranded net. It will join Heathers and American Woman, starring Alicia Silverstone, which moved over to Paramount Network from Viacom’s TV Land, and The Shannara Chronicles, which migrates to the channel after an inaugural season on MTV. Additional programming will include a six-part Waco miniseries exploring he 51-day siege of the Branch Dividian compound in 1993 and I Am Martin Luther King Jr., the latest documentary in Derik Murray’s acclaimed I Am series.
The Mist premieres on Spike Thursday, June 22 at 10 p.m. ET.