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The 12 Most Disturbing Moments In The Mist Ranked

Lovecraftian horrors abound in this cinematic adaptation of Stephen King's novella "The Mist." It's a horrifying film that delivers the frights, but ultimately disturbs viewers with a look at how various people might act in a terrifying and lawless situation. The film follows David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) as they make a quick grocery trip in their rural town of Bridgton, Maine following a devastating storm. Ominously, a mist begins rolling into town that ultimately proves to be a harbinger of death. David, his son, and several others barricade themselves in the store to wait out the horrors that lie in wait.

Director Frank Darabont has a long-standing relationship with the famed writer, having adapted other King works including "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile." In an interview with IGN, Darabont shared that he has always wanted to adapt this particular story because of its compelling study on ordinary people and fear. "It's not so much about the unbelievably cool creatures we've got working in this thing. It's not really about that. What it's really about is fear. What does fear compel people to do?" Darabont questions. He continues, "You scare the (expletive) out of them, as this character says at one point, you take all the rules away. Then what? How primitive do people get?" 

As the film settles in for a harrowing ride within the grocery store, many people react to the perception of certain doom in different ways. "The Mist" is filled to the brim with disturbing moments that stem from the horrors that lurk in the mist and the average folks of Bridgton alike. Let's examine some of the most unsettling scenes in the film ranked from least horrific to the most soul-crushing.

The ominous warning of a stranger

The shrill whine of sirens echoing across a city is a well-known, but unsettling klaxon call for impending danger. It may signal a natural disaster such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Or, it could be the signal used to warn populations of a terrorist threat or nuclear strike. But in "The Mist," the ominous warning gives way to something far worse. As the sirens ring out, a man named Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) is seen running through the parking lot toward the grocery store, bloodied. As soon as he enters the store he shouts, "Something in the mist! Something in the mist took John Lee!" As the store clerk Ollie (Toby Jones) attempts to calm the man, Dan reiterates, "Something in the mist took John Lee. I could hear him screaming." He then urges everyone to shut the doors.

Of course, there's one in every bunch that ignores reason given the obvious signs. One man bolts for his car in the parking lot as the mist envelops him. The onlooking folks in the store then hear the man scream, prompting them to actually listen to Dan and shut the doors. This moment kicks off our ranking of the most disturbing sequences in the film simply because of the knot it leaves in our stomachs. The fear and anxiety are palpable as everyone struggles to understand what danger has befallen them. It's the unnerving confusion one must feel when they're told they should be panicking, but they don't even know what they should be afraid of.

Tentacles attack

The first sign of real trouble comes when a crew consisting of David, Ollie, Jim (William Sadler), a bagger boy named Norm (Chris Owen), and a handful of other men head to the loading area of the store. David tells the men he heard and saw something pushing on the garage door. The rest of the crew, led by the reckless and belligerent Jim, decide they want to turn on the emergency generator which is just outside of the loading area. Norm insists he's up for the task even though David is still heavily concerned that there's something dangerous outside. David pleads with him not to go, but Norm's haughty arrogance is puffed up by Jim and the crew who regard David as nothing more than a scared coward. As soon as the men raise the door, Norm takes his alpha-male energy and gazes into the mist where he's met with a horrific tentacle that attempts to drag him into the unknown.

The tentacle becomes multiple tentacles that enter the store and begin attacking others as one holds its grip on Norm. The monstrous appendages are horrific by design. They unfold and show rows of serrated teeth. One tentacle lands on Norm's chest and rips out a chunk of his flesh. Bloodied, he cries for help, and David does all he can to save the boy. The failing struggle to keep Norm from being pulled out into an unimaginable death is slow and torturous as the teen realizes his egregious error. It's disturbing in all the wildest ways. For one, we never see what those tentacles were attached to. Secondly, a young man lost his life due to Jim's influential aggression egging the impressionable bagger boy on.

Ollie is killed by a massive creature

Ollie, the store clerk, likely becomes a fan-favorite by the tail-end of the film. Like David, he's the most level-headed of the bunch and doesn't hesitate to make the hard decisions when the time calls for it. He's a sharpshooter who wields a revolver, capably saving several lives during the attack of the massive insects and pterodactyl-like creatures. Furthermore, he silences the commanding Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) with a few bullets, ultimately putting her murderous power trip to rest so the survivors who wished to depart could leave.

Ollie's bravery and good nature make his sudden death in the final moments of the film so jarring. As David, Dan, Frances Sternhagen (Irene Reppler), Billy, Amanda Dunfrey (Laurie Holden), Ollie, and a few others decide it's time to leave, they rush out into the mist in hopes of quickly finding a vehicle than can escape in. During the paranoia of being out in the dangerous mist, some of the crew are separated. Ollie is then summarily grabbed by a large preying mantis-like creature and bisected in a horrific sequence prompting the rest of the crew to race even faster. Ollie's death is highly unfortunate and just another reminder that the world inside the mist is completely unforgiving.

Assault of the giant insects

What could possibly be more frightening than an onslaught of giant locust-like insects with stingers the length of bowie knives? The mist produces some of the most horrid monstrosities, and these insects rank high among them. When they first descend on the store at night, the survivors see them land precariously on the glass storefront. What these folks don't understand immediately is that the lights they have turned on are attracting the bugs, much like our actual Earthly insects can be attracted to light and heat. And just like real-life insects, these bugs are also prey for other predators.

No sooner do we witness these strange creatures swoop in and snatch up these bugs on the windows. They look like pterodactyls, and they're causing the glass to crack. Eventually, the inevitable happens and one creature plunges through the window, inviting the rest of the bugs inside of the store to wreak havoc. A young woman who is a cashier, Sally (Alexa Davalos), is stung by one of the insects. It causes the poor young lady to convulse and her neck to swell up causing her to suffocate. Meanwhile, other people are being killed or maimed by the onslaught of pterodactyl creatures hunting for food. These bugs and the predators they attract are the stuff of nightmares.

The demise of two military men

The specter of secretive government exploits looms large in this tale. It's a fear as old as time. Ruling bodies often have their own agendas, and Americans have long questioned the federal government's penchant for keeping the public in the dark. "The Mist" plays off those fears as we learn the military is clearly involved in whatever is happening on the ground. Three military men are among the survivors stuck in the grocery store. They're often seen huddled together discussing things privately. At the start of the film, an MP officer is shown entering the store to tell the three men their leaves have been canceled and they're being ordered to evacuate — an order not being directed to the general public.

Later in the film, after David leads a trek to the pharmacy next door to obtain antibiotics and medicine, he finds the MP officer bound by spiderwebs and in a very bad way. His dying words suggested military experimentation had something to do with the mist. David later confronts Private Jessup (Sam Witwer). He claims that he doesn't know where his two comrades are and that he has no idea what's going on. But after David, Jessup, and others head into the loading dock to find the two missing military men, it's clear that they knew more than they let on. The pair had committed suicide, and Jessup lamented their decision thinking they weren't serious about "doing it." It's a moment that disturbs the most trusting among us and plays off fears that the government is always hiding something sinister from the public view.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

The bisected corpse of one who tempted fate

Fear is a powerful thing. It either kicks us humans into gear, or causes us to break down. In "The Mist," there is a contingent of people who bitterly reject the idea that there are monsters in the mist. Despite an account provided by a handful of people who witnessed the tentacle attack that claimed the bagger boy Norm's life, David's neighbor, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), is in total denial. Instead, he becomes angry and accuses David and the others of playing a sick mind game. Despite all the telltale signs of something gone awry, Brent won't have it. He then gathers a group of folks who agree with his stance and they decide to take their chances out in the mist. Those remaining behind decide they'd like to defend themselves, wishing for another firearm. Ambrose Cornell (Buck Taylor) informs everyone that he has a shotgun in his truck.

One intrepid biker (Brian Libby) volunteers to go out into the mist to retrieve the shotgun while Brent leads his crew into the unknown. David ties a rope around the biker's waste to ensure that they can pull him back and to know how far he is able to get before encountering danger (if he does). After the biker disappears into the mist, anxiety settles in. But suddenly, the rope tightens and lifts high in the air. Eventually, slack in the rope enables David to pull. What emerges from the mist is the lower half of the biker with his entrails spilling out in a shocking display. It's likely that most were happy they chose to stay put.

Joe's fatal immolation

When it rains, it pours. During the onslaught of otherworldly locusts and pterodactyls, all manner of chaos ensues. People are running to and fro attempting to escape the creatures buzzing around the store. Meanwhile, Amanda and David are attempting to dip mops in kerosene to create torch-style weapons to ward off the intruding monstrosities. Sally is stung by an insect and swells up like a balloon before dying while Ollie, armed with a six-shooter, attempts to get through a ravenous crowd of people in an effort to get a good vantage point on the winged creatures.

Joe Eagleton (Jackson Hurst) attempts to join the fight by grabbing a mop and lighting it on fire. However, his frantic scramble is ultimately his own downfall. After lighting the mop, he stumbles over the bucket of fluid which catches fire. Unfortunately, Joe is too close and eventually finds his entire body engulfed in flames as he stumbles around the store attempting to find relief. After the fiasco is resolved, David, Joe's brother Bobby (Brandon O'Dell), and others attempt to comfort Joe who is covered from head to toe in severe burns. He can hardly stand the pain and pleads with David to kill him. Instead, the crew decides to head to the pharmacy. It is there, that Joe's brother is killed. When David and the rest return, they find that Joe has succumbed to his wounds. As always, mass hysteria and chaos tend to lead to casualties and destruction.

Mrs. Carmody sways many into religious fanaticism

There's no doubt that Mrs. Carmody is a villain in this setting. She is a religious fanatic who instantly gets on most people's nerves from the start. As soon as trouble emerges, she starts prophesying blood and death claiming that God is taking out his vengeful wrath in the form of the apocalypse. Nearly everyone dismisses her, including Jim who threatens to put his boot in her tailpipe. However, as more horrors unfold for the good folks locked in the grocery store, the more Mrs. Carmody's particular brand of salvation starts to sound appealing. People see that death always occurs after she claims that it would. Furthermore, she is spared from one of the insects that lands on her simply because she held still. However, moments like these are enough to sway some of the weak-minded among the group that need to latch on to something.

She later tells David and crew that their trek to the pharmacy will fail and end in death. Unfortunately, the party did fail to retrieve the medicine needed and two men were killed in the process. The next time we see Mrs. Carmody preaching, Jim is among her congregation. The idea that one extremist can sway countless others to their side in the face of adversity is horrifying. Radical groupthink often leads to the most violent and destructive outcomes, as we've seen in our modern world. Mrs. Carmody's collection of miscreants is no different.

Otherworldly spiders attack

The journey to the pharmacy is one of the most harrowing moments in the film. It is here that David and crew witness the full effect of the mist in force. Clearly, no one barricaded the pharmacy. Monsters got in with ease and made the place a nesting ground. What sort of monsters were these, exactly? Well, if you have a case of arachnophobia, this might be the moment in the film where you close your eyes. These alien spiders can only be conjured in the darkest pits of Hell. Their webbing is acidic. Bobby gets sprayed around the arm with the webbing which flays the skin off his arm completely in a visual not meant for the squeamish.

Furthermore, they apparently lay their eggs inside the bodies of the living. That's right, they don't kill their victims outright. The MP officer from the beginning of the film is found in the pharmacy bound by webbing and barely alive. Before the crew knows what's happening, baby spiders begin emerging from the man's body. Eventually, he falls over and his entire body explodes with a swarm of baby spiders bursting outward. It's not for the faint of heart and will likely leave an impression on even the most astute horror fan.

Mrs. Carmody orders the sacrifice of Jessup

There is a swirl of emotions that everyone must be enduring in this type of situation. Fear gives way to grief, regret, and even anger. When David finally learns from Jessup that the military is behind the mist and the creatures within it, Jim overhears the whole thing and brings Jessup before Mrs. Carmody's congregation to force him to explain the situation. He divulges that the military was engaging in some experiment known as Project Arrowhead. Jessup claims he has no idea what the project is, but that he was simply stationed there. However, Mrs. Carmody feeds off the anxiety of her congregation and the poor soldier is indicted for the crimes of, well, everything that has befallen this small town. The idea that a private could even have a modicum of control over such a secretive project is absurd. Yet, Mrs. Carmody's congregation believes her accusations.

She claims that a sacrifice is required to keep the beasts at bay and that Jessup is the one they must offer. As Jessup attempts to escape the rabid group, he is stabbed in the stomach by one man. The rest then pick him up and toss him out the front door. Knowing what is about to happen, he begs and pleads for his life outside the store before being picked up by a massive creature and killed. This moment signifies that Mrs. Carmody's group of religious zealots has reached a fever pitch and will spill blood at the drop of a hat if she commands it. It's a disturbing realization of the complete and total radicalization that can occur if one person expertly manipulates the fears and anxieties of the masses.

The religious zealots attempt to kill young Billy

Sacrificing Private Jessup may have seemed like the worst this group of extremists could possibly get. However, it goes a step further. David, Amanda, Frances, Dan, Ollie, Billy, and a few others resolve to leave. They know they won't be able to survive Mrs. Carmody and her violent crew very long and would likely fare better in the mist attempting to flee the monsters. They pinpoint a vehicle and plan to exit the store quietly, take the car, and leave.

When they tiptoe to the front of the store, Mrs. Carmody is waiting in a chair with a knife, menacingly. David asks her to just allow his group passage out of the store. But Mr. Carmody refuses. This time, even though she is unprovoked, she calls for another sacrifice riding high on her power trip. At least during the prior incident with Jessup, the mob was incited by some sort of anger toward the military that resulted in Jessup's death. Now, the evil woman simply marks Billy, David's son, for death and the mob willingly begins to carry out her wishes. This is the peak realization of Mr. Carmody's hold over these mindless people. Thankfully, Ollie stops the potential murder of the young boy by killing Mrs. Carmody. Her death seemingly breaks the idea that she is powerful and God is protecting her, thereby causing her congregation to take a step back.

David kills the remaining survivors, including his own son

The most disturbing moment, and certain the cruelest enacted by the universe, goes to the film's ending. Frank Darabont's take on the "The Mist" is rather faithful to the King novella, except when it comes to this particular ending. Darabont opted for a much darker resolution. As David, Billy, Frances, and Dan drive slowly through the mist, they witness the horrors the monsters have wreaked on their small town. David finds that his wife was killed by the spiders. Furthermore, there's extensive devastation, and a massive Cthulu-like creature is lumbering on the horizon.

Finally, the car runs out of gas. They weren't able to get clear of the mist and fear they will now be subject to the torturous deaths that these monsters can inflict on them. David's son, Billy, is asleep on Amanda's lap. He somberly suggests they all take the most quick and painless way out of this nightmare as he pulls out the revolver. He realizes, however, there are only four bullets, but five of them. In an apparent act of selflessness, David reserves the four bullets for his son and three friends. After doing the deed he crumbles in agony and defeat, beckoning the creatures to come out and finish him. What happens instead is the military rolls in, torching and killing the creatures at every turn. When David realizes that they were just moments away from rescue, he laments having killed his own son and friends. It's pretty dark stuff. Darabont certainly created a lasting memory with this change. Because of it, "The Mist" is a film that won't soon be forgotten.