General Release 2007
126 minutes approx
David Drayton -
Amanda Dumfries -
Mrs Carmody -
Marcia Gay Harden
Ollie Weeks -
Brent Norton -
Irene Reppler -
Directed by -
Written by -
A storm races across the lake and smashes everything in the area where David Drayton lives, so when he and Billy go into the supermarket in town they are not surprised by the long queues at the checkouts. The the mist that they saw on the edge of the lake descends on the town and brings with it things, unearthly things that like the taste of human flesh. Trapped and scared, the suddenly created community of shoppers fractures into subgroups, tempers fray and the subject of human sacrifice to an angry God is raised.
Writer/director Frank Darabont seems to have an affinity for the works of Stephen King. His first two adaptations of King's work resulted in the very highly regarded SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and only slightly less well-regarded THE GREEN MILE, neither of which are concerned with King's core business of full-on horror. THE MIST, however, is full-on horror and it's done the way that full-on horror should be with an introduction that allows us to get to know our heroes a little, a spooky lead in to the first revelation of the gore and then shocks at regular periods after, punctuating the unrelenting tension. This is old-fashioned horror done well.
Thomas Jane leads a cast of low-wattage names, but actors all of whom are worth their screen time. They create characters who seem real and rounded from the very start and whom we come to care about quite quickly. These are not heroes, but ordinary folk having to rise to heroism just as others descend into madness. This is all done with subtlety of performance rather than grandstanding. That's left to Marcia Gay Harden who has to play it up as the harridan bible-thumping Mrs Carmody who turns out to be just as dangerous and deadly as anything that lies outside in the mist. In fact, it is what goes on inside the supermarket, the breakdown of civilisation and the descent into primitive religious fervour that proves to be as effective as the attack of the CGI beasties.
Ah yes, the CGI beasties. The effects are of variable quality (this being a relatively low budget affair). The first appearance of a tentacle is very poor, but less than a minute later the tentacles are winces and yelps amongst the audience as they go about their task of dismembering their first victim. Least effective are the batlike birds that first breach the supermarket and flap about inside, one of them on fire, in an almost sub-Harryhausen fashion. By contrast the trip into the pharmacy with its spider-like monstrosities is genius. What they do to their victims is the stuff of nightmares.
Make no mistake about it, THE MIST is nasty indeed. People die in messy fashion and their is no rhyme or reason as to who lives or dies. Being good, being a hero, being a major or minor character - none of that matters. But where THE MIST is really nasty is in its view of humanity. The descent to almost neanderthal levels of religious insanity is oh so rapid and yet also believable. The scene in which a woman begs for help before venturing out into the unknown alone is excruciating. And the ending. Well, the ending is completely different from Stephen King's novella, but it is devastating all the same.
THE MIST came and went in the cinema so very quickly that you could almost blink and miss it. This, though, is far too good a film for that to be the end of it. This will assuredly find its place when released on DVD.
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