Remember 2007’s The Mist, which featured arguably the darkest ending to a mainstream studio film of all-time? Spike has ordered a television adaptation of Stephen King’s novella — on which the film was based — which means the network’s first original pilot will be full of crazy Christians, giant spiders, and tentacles that rip people’s skin off.
Though that sounds like a bold move, consider the parallels between The Mist and the nation’s most beloved television show, The Walking Dead. Both chronicle the struggles of small-town Americans as they attempt to survive an apocalyptic threat. Both follow a white, male hero who is devoted to his children — who is, ultimately, unable to save his wife — and both stories tease at the idea that those in power haven’t been honest with the general public about military technology.
The Mist was surprisingly watchable, despite its less-than-impressive special effects, because it employed all the heart-pounding excitement of a monster epic while focusing on psychological and moral conflicts among its human characters. The primary threat in the film was, obviously, being eaten by a giant creature, but as in The Walking Dead, human-on-human violence and manipulation were more pervasive and compounding problems.
If Spike is able to pull off expanding the novella’s story into something complex enough to warrant an entire series, the network may just steal disillusioned Walking Dead fans — tiring of the show after several seasons and disappointed with the show’s spin-off — right out from under AMC’s nose.
Then again, as with any adaptation of a Stephen King story, the project faces either ridicule or hyperbolic critical acclaim. Because tacking King’s name onto a project automatically draws thousands of viewers, it’s difficult for any adaptation to coast along with mediocrity (Under the Dome is an exception). Will The Mist be more of a Green Mile, or a Dreamcatcher? Keep your eye on Spike for the next few months, and we’ll find out.