13 years after directing The Shawshank Redemption, Darabont directs another King's adaptation. And I can’t say that I was impressed. It is considered to be one of the greatest and most frightening horror movies of the century so far, but I couldn't agree less. It was one of the most disappointing films that I've ever seen.
On the surface, it has all the elements of being a good horror movie, and also a good movie outside of the genre, the same line that for me holds movies like Casablanca (my all-time favorite), Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, The 400 Blows and so many more. It has some very nice acting, and it has a political sting, and it has some interesting and surprisingly deep characters (well, most of them, if you look hard enough). It has a really nice conspiracy, and it tackles religious fanatics and hubris filled scientists. It has everything that a movie could ask for.
And that's the problem, it has way too much. The mist isn't scary, because there are creatures in there. They aren't scary, because we've got big ol fucking Cthulhu in there. Cthulhu isn't scary, because we got a conspiracy, and this conspiracy isn't scary because we also got some religious fanatics, and we're also told about the scientists, and we see the people going mad, becoming beasts like in Night of the Living Dead, and… I think that you've got the idea. We've got way too much.
And that's even before we look at the movie on the genre level. We've got horror, and then we got a love story (only for the woman to get killed 2 seconds or so later). Then we get into a Christian movie, later turned into a post-apocalyptic film, before finally ending on the melodramatic Hamlet side of the spectrum.
Maybe it's just me, I don't know. But for me it was hell too much to really care for what's going on. I watched the movie trying to understand what's going on at the beginning, and then started to guess what strange twist they'll bring this time.
And that's a lesson to keep in mind when designing and writing your stories, your adventures. Think not only about what to put in, but also about what to put out. Remind yourself that too much of a good thing turns everything into something bad, or at the very least tasteless. When every few minutes the story changes completely, and you throw something too different and too big to handle, you'll just end with people who don't care.
They don't care not because they don't want to, but because they can't, because you put too much for their minds to handle. Because, and that' a thing that one should keep in mind, you as GM's know everything and you had much time to absorb it, to analyze it, to understand what goes where and when. But players? They only have a few minutes. So have mercy on them, or don't be surprised when they can't get what you're doing next or don't care for your uber-impressive plot twist.
How about you? What did you think about this movie? And have you learned from it something else, something positive?