Two Movies in which Everybody Dies

Looking to veg out on the weekend, I randomly selected two movies from the library, guided only by my wife’s wish for “something scary.”

The Mist (2007) was adapted from a Stephen King novella. Says I to myself, “Didn’t I read that, many years ago? And wasn’t it excruciatingly bad?” Well, yeah–but the film got good reviews, and anyhow, screenplay writers very rarely follow the original story.

Unfortunately, this time, they did! Stephen King is a sophomoric dolt, and this movie is faithful to him. So we get all the tired old Stephen King cliches that were tired and old even back in the 1980s, when he wrote this dud: the artist guy turns out to be much more of a man than the blue-collar louts who resent his college education (I think this motif dates back to Predynastic Egypt); the monsters are inevitably the fault of a super-secret military experiment conducted by straight white men; and all the Christians in the movie are bloodthirsty fanatics, ignorant, crude, stupid, and not at all sophisticated and wonderful like Stephen King.

Just to make you feel bad, everybody dies. Yup–the hero has to shoot the wise old schoolmarm with the heart of gold, the decent middle-aged guy who’s done everything he can to help, the lovely lady he might be falling in love with, and even his adorable little 5-year-old son. He has to shoot them so the monsters can’t get them (a fate worse than being shot). And then, oops, he runs out of bullets and can’t shoot himself.  Blah, blah, blah.

Knowing (2009), starring Nicolas Cage, was a lot better–but everybody still dies, on account of it being the end of the world: all except some children who get taken to safety on another planet. This film has a strong but somewhat muddled religious subtext. At least the few Christians in it are generous, loving people who really do trust God–I don’t think I’ve seen that in any other film made since 1975. I’m surprised Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins didn’t stage a protest.

But the point is: two movies, both fairly recent, selected at random (I’d never heard of either of them)… and in both of them, everybody dies. Well, practically everybody. I’m used to movies opting for somewhat happier endings than that. After all, that was what was so shocking about Night of the Living Dead–all the main characters got killed.

What does it mean, culturally, for everybody in the movie to die? Anybody got a clue?

10 comments on “Two Movies in which Everybody Dies

  1. It is said by Islamic people that we in the west love life, but that they love death. Presumably, this is because they have this wild notion that if they die for Allah, the reward will be 72 virgins for each man, luxury beyond belief, and blah blah blah. It seems that those who are feeding the public in our culture their idea of entertainment is they believe we are now leaning toward the culture of death, too. yuk.

  2. It is hard to say, since they have so successfully infiltrated our culture
    and have taken over a great deal due to the support of oil rich supporters. These people are dead serious about taking over the world, and they are don’t care how long it takes.

  3. I find the acting so poor in these and other recent films that I actually start rooting for all of the characters to die. Now, if only they could all die in the first 10 minutes, that might be a movie I might be able to stomach. Also, there’d be extra time for more worthy pursuits, such as staring at a rock until your vision starts to blur.

    1. I tend to get caught renting bad movies because I really don’t pay much attention to recent movies. On those rare occasions when I actually go to the movies, I usually find myself watching a whole bunch of previews strung together, all featuring bodies flying around and lots of screaming, until I begin to suspect they’re all the same movie, just dressed up with different titles. Have you seen the preview for the remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth? That’s about where some of these films belong.

  4. Such movies strike me as a playing out of apocalyptic scenarios in literature/theater. Somehow, I suspect that people instinctively know that the only way out of this mess will involve a profound judgment. The part ways with the Bible, because the Bible teaches a selective judgment, condemning only evil, while the human notion usually involves annihilation of the innocent as a consequence of the judgment.

    It strikes me that many of the movies which come out these days seem to be very dark and pessimistic. Optimistic, uplifting movies are a rarity these days. Even movies for children, once a haven free from immorality and violence, have taken a negative turn in our day. Kids movies these days deal with modern notions of sex and cover subjects which I would not have even known about as a child.

    1. Agreed. Society has changed a lot since then and such harmless entertainment would no longer be tolerated. Everything has to indulge the dark side of human nature, or it’s dismissed as childish.

Leave a Reply