Stephen King ends “The Mist” with David Drayton possibly hearing civilization on the radio and telling his son the words: “One of them is Hartford, the other is hope.” King told Yahoo! Entertainment in 2017 how he felt about Frank Darabont’s own radical and depressing vision for the denouement:
“When Frank was interested in ‘The Mist,’ one of the things that he insisted on was that it would have some kind of an ending, which the story doesn’t have — it just sort of peters off into nothing, where these people are stuck in the mist, and they’re out of gas, and the monsters are around, and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. When Frank said that he wanted to do the ending that he was going to do, I was totally down with that.”
In the film, Drayton, his son, and other friends escape the supermarket and drive into the ominous mist until they run out of gas. Rather than fight the veiled monsters, they make the despairing decision to end their lives. The only problem is they do not have enough bullets for everyone in the car.
Darabont’s camera travels across their somber faces in tense close-ups while they accept their grave choice. Next, he cuts to a wide shot of the car in the middle of the mist as the shots bang out in quick succession. When he returns to the inside of the car, the sight of the bloodied, dead bodies behind the traumatized Drayton is absolutely chilling. Then, in a cruel twist of fate, Drayton emerges from the car to find the mist clearing and military tanks coming to the rescue.