15 years ago today, "the most shocking ending ever" arrived in cinemas 4 months ago

15 years ago today, "the most shocking ending ever" arrived in cinemas

The ending to this movie is truly unforgettable.

Director Frank Darabont's first movie was The Shawshank Redemption, still considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Based on a Stephen King novel, how do you successfully follow that up?


Darabont tried to replicate the magic by adapting another King book - The Green Mile - for his next movie, but it wasn't met with the same amount of praise.

In 2001, he directed a overly saccharine Jim Carrey drama titled The Majestic, which was both a critical and commercial failure.

He didn't direct again until 2007, once again returning to the Stephen King well, this time delving into horror, for an adaptation of The Mist.

On a fairly minor budget ($18 million), it made its money back (a little over $57 million worldwide), and critics at the time liked it but didn't seem to love it (71% on Rotten Tomatoes).


Darabont hasn't directed another movie since then, and aside from helping to develop The Walking Dead, his CV has been almost entirely barren in the last decade-and-a-half.

But the 15 years since the release of The Mist have been hugely kind in retrospect, if only because the movie is so incredibly unkind in its final moments...



To catch you up on the plot of the movie (and King's book), a small town becomes entirely enveloped in a mysterious mist, reportedly originating from an army science base nearby. Within the mist, huge and violent creatures are killing anyone they come into contact with, so David (Thomas Jane) and his son seek refuge in a large supermarket with a group of his friends and neighbours.

But it isn't long before the monsters outside can't hold a candle to the monstrosities within the store. As Darabont described it to The Times at the time: "The story is less about the monsters outside than about the monsters inside, the people you're stuck with, your friends and neighbours breaking under the strain."

Deciding to make a break for it, David, his son and three more from the store get in a car and attempt to drive out of the fog. Eventually running out of petrol, they decide to take their own lives, rather than be consumed by the monsters. But David's gun only has four bullets, so he shoots the three passengers, and then his own son.

He gets out of the car, putting himself into the path of what he believes is an incoming monster, only for the fog to break and reveal a tank. The army are beginning to get the situation under control, and at that moment, a truck goes by, containing many of the people from within the store.


Realising that he and his son were just moments from being saved, David collapses to his knees and screams in despair.

It is an absolute gut-punch on an ending, one that is different to the book that the movie is based on, and one that King was fully on board for.

In King's version of the story, David, his son and fellow survivors are in a hotel room, having heard over the radio that there is somewhere to go that might offer sanctuary. It is much more open-ended, but also supplies a glimmer of hope, one that Darabont completely snuffs out with his version.

At a press conference for the movie's release, King said:

"Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead."


Additionally, King told USA Today the following:

"The ending is such a jolt - wham! - it's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."

The Mist is available to rent on Google Play, Apple TV and Sky Store right now, and if you want a reminder of that ending, here it is in full below: