Point-Counter Point: Van Helsing vs. The Mist

So, just before we begin, let me explain this…. THIS ARTICLE HAS SPOILERS FOR BOTH THE MIST TV SERIES AND THE VAN HELSING TV SERIES. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, then go back and read Jesus’ article about “What Could Have Been” for Warhammer 40k.

In the beginning of the summer, I heard a very interesting thing from the online rumor mill. One of my favorite movies, The Mist, was being turned into a TV series. And people, let me tell you, I was excited. I loved both the short story and the 2007 horror film, and finding out that they were going to bring it to television screen only made me ecstatic! The idea of watching a town fight off the horrors of the mist for several hours just called to me!

It was also around the same time, I began seeing a series pop up on my Netflix called Van Helsing. As it was sold to me, it was like Walking Dead but with Vampires and a super chick who kicks butt. Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes

So, ever the bored Millennial, I decided to push away my $10 dollar avocado toast and watch both series. At the current time of this article, I have finished episode 8 of The Mist and episode 7 of Van Helsing. And at this point in time, I can say one is good, one is bad.

So let’s begin with the good.

I am surprised to say that I like Van Helsing. If you’re gasping in surprise after reading that, I first need you to chill out – this is only a blog post. But secondly, I need you to know that I’m equally surprised. Starting out, there was a lot going against it. See, it’s an original SciFi production… or is it SiFi still? SyFi? Gah, who knows. Anyways, while SyFy has made some amazing series such as Battlestar Galactica, it has made a lot of amazingly crappy television shows. They usually end up going for camp instead of realism, and I can understand why – camp sells for them. So, when I saw that SyFy produced the series, I almost turned it off.

I am so glad I didn’t.

First, let’s get this out of the way… this series isn’t perfect. If you’re looking for deep character study, you will be disappointed. The characters give you JUST enough to make them not seem like cardboard cutouts. The writing isn’t going to win any Emmys (not great but not awful), and the pacing is a touch on the slow side.

What they did get right is they work their asses off with creating a fully realized setting. Yes, you might deal with characters just a notch above cardboard cut outs, but at least no one is a complete idiot. Everyone acts like a person who has survived the last few years as vampire fodder. The pacing is a tad slow, but at no time am I bored, and when things do speed up, it’s generally very rewarding. Plus, each episode feels like they add something new to the series.

So, while I was ready to use a pun and say ‘Van Helsing sucks,’ I cannot. It’s worth your time. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but also doesn’t treat you like you’re an idiot. The SFX and greenscreen are legitimately not bad at all, and you’ll probably love the setting they work hard to craft.

So! There you have it. That’s the series I chose out of the two that was good.

Now let’s talk about The Mist.

(Again, serious spoilers ahead. But the show is terrible so you shouldn’t watch anyway.)

The Mist is literally the worst thing I’ve watched in the last couple years, if not my entire life. It is a program that is filled with slow pacing, idiotic choices, insulting plot twists, and (always a personal favorite) rape as plot/character development.

So. Long story short? Girl gets raped at a high school party. Town starts to shun her. Mist rolls in. There are deadly things inside said mist. Many groups get trapped together. Girl ends up trapped in a mall with her supposed rapist. She can’t help but sort of still have feelings for him. Oh, he saved her life. Maybe she can learn to love him again. Okay, it’s cool, they’re in love now. And everyone is an asshole for calling out ‘why the fuck are you having a play date with your supposed rapist?’

Don’t worry, though. The guy actually didn’t rape her. The girl’s bisexual friend actually raped her. Why? Cause he’s zany!

The whole ‘rape as a plot’ thing is the shit sandwich of my complaints about the show. But you get plenty of other things to pile on this Lunch of Sadness. One of my favorite complaints is that you have characters who make laughable decisions! Some of these decisions are so poorly thought out, I assume it’s the writers subconsciously trying to admit that they never actually passed their high school fiction writing course. Here are a few of my favorite scenes…

  • Hey, I’m an overbearing mom who refuses to let my daughter go to high school parties. But now that we’re stuck in this mall surrounded by deadly mist, I’m going to let my daughter wander alone even though her supposed rapist is also in the mall!
  • We, two semi-attractive people, are being asked to try to siphon gas from a car in the garage. We better hurry. Wait, when the guys says hurry does he mean have sex in the back seat of the car and then spend a couple minutes snuggling?
  • I am the law… but you do make some good points about the mist. Let me lock people in a church and then set it on fire. Oh, don’t worry, there is now a magical escape route via the sewers that no one noticed until now.
  • Yes, I am the video game shop owner. You know I am a video game shop owner because I describe things using random video game examples. What is up, Youths?

It’s like the writers looked at the script, thought “what’s the easiest and sloppiest way to tie Point A to Point B?” and then they asked a five year old to transcribe their ideas with an unsharpened coloring pencil. Characters be damned – if the plot needs something to happen, the character will be made to do something horrendously stupid to make it so.

So, that’s where I am at in my summer watching. Van Helsing is a fun series that falls beautifully in being ‘sort of campy’ but also intelligent. The Mist is a metaphorical dumpster fire that I assume is the result of an experiment where they put a bunch of chimpanzees in a room with typewriters. But instead of writing Shakespeare, the monkeys threw feces at the keyboards and somehow came out with this utter garbage.


What series have you been watching this summer? Anything good you can recommend me?

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About the Author
Billy started out his roots like many roleplayers - D&D. Playing it and then Vampire all through highschool and college, Billy picked it all up again when he made the move from Michigan to New York. Now working in publishing, Billy does what he can to view roleplaying games through a narrative's lens. Does that sound classy as balls? It should.

2 comments on “Point-Counter Point: Van Helsing vs. The Mist

  1. Fabian says:

    Thought that was bad? If you ever watch Virtuality, a sort-of movie that’s actually a pilot for a failed TV series, you will be praying for death before the movie is halfway through. Oh, and it also uses rape as a plot point, and in the dumbest way (Spoiler: It’s in a virtual simulation so there’s no reason for the characters to expose themselves to these horrible experiences).

  2. Sam says:

    So I have a confession here, as far as dumb campy shows to watch I have one that’s pretty up there that I enjoy way too much. It’s on Syfy, but more importantly it was made by Asylum. You know, the guys who unabashedly make big name mockbusters and are very good at dodging lawsuits. Also the guys behind Sharknado. So that’s our baseline here.

    Z Nation is a zombie road trip series that as of writing has 3 seasons, with a 4th in the works. The first two seasons center around a group of survivors trying to get a man who is immune to the disease to a lab in California so a cure can be synthesized, while being supported by a man with an internet connection who is now the entire NSA. The special effects are questionable, episodes frequently have excuse plots to do something fun, and there are zombies with boners.

    Yet somehow it is one of the few ongoing zombie shows I’ve really enjoyed in the last couple years. It’s lighter than things like the walking dead, with a more stable cast of characters. The camp comes off as charming, the characters are all either likable or die by the 1st season. Plus by the time the 3rd season rolls around it actually starts getting into some interesting end game scenarios for the apocalypse, and how the characters deal with that.

    Z Nation is by no means an amazing show. But if you’re looking for something to tide you over for a bit it can be an interesting watch, as long as you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for a bit when things get downright silly. Listen it’s Asylum you need to be ready for the occasional bad CG zombie shark.

    PS. It also has a scene where a woman addresses the fact that her and one of the guys in the group still do each other’s eyebrows because it makes them feel like the world isn’t ending, so like that’s a point in it’s favor right there.

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