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The Mist

A horror movie.

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Effective, creepy, and intelligent; Darabont's "The Mist" is a delightfully scary thrill-ride.

  • Oct 25, 2011
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

"The Mist" is a deceptive horror film; based on a Stephen King novella, and directed by Frank Darabont, who has in the past helmed a few of the most famous and widely-known adaptations of King's work. He is a talented, understanding filmmaker; and I admire both his style and intentions, all of which were good for this very film. He wanted to entertain, but at the same time, he wanted to make an adaptation that forced the audience to think a little, and with a little bit of effort and a lot of outstandingly complex thought, he is able to take a situation that King created through literature and turn it into a successful movie. This is one of those rare horror films that works as both a film of its own genre and one of another. So if you had to ask whether it's a solid, say, drama; then I would say, yes, it works in that sense.

So it gives you more than you expect; while still giving us the monster movie that the premise and trailers suggest. I can't say it accumulates to a work of great cinema, but this is the work of a director who is passionate about his material, and wants to explore it in deeper, more interesting ways; or at least ones that are considerably more interesting than those of most filmmakers. In a world where monster movies and horror films themselves are consumed by vile, tasteless exploitation of the genre; Darabont makes movies like "The Mist", and damn, he makes them pretty skillfully. I liked this film. Perhaps I enjoyed it even more than I actually liked it. Some find it mediocre and heavily flawed to the point of no return; I find it thought-provoking, intelligent, suspenseful, intense, and when it wants to be, startling and sometimes even a bit...scary.

H.P. Lovecraft says that our greatest fear is the fear of everything that is unknown. If we cannot see it, feel it, smell it, understand it, or know that it exists whatsoever; then such a thing will scare us the most. This philosophy has been used in horror cinema since time immemorial; a notable example is "The Blair Witch Project", a film which speaks of a witch, yet it does not actually show the hag.

The horror of "The Mist" is all in the title; there is indeed a thick mist, but it's what's within it that matters. It engulfs a town; nobody can see through it. A group of people are trapped in a grocery store while the mist consumes the surrounding areas; and they learn of what lies within it only through sounds and the chances that they, often unfortunately, take. Since I guess it wouldn't hurt to tell, I guess I'll mention that the force inside the mist comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. All-the-same, the villains are all prehistoric-esque monstrosities from some other alternative dimension; they aren't from around these parts. They could easily break into the store, since the entire front is covered with glass windows; completely vulnerable. The people inside panic, for they don't know what to make of what surrounds them outside. Hell, they can't even see what's out there; for the most part. Since what they fear are the creatures of the mist; what you get to see includes the following: mutant bugs, mutant bat-things, mutant-spiders, and a giant behemoth towards the end which strangely resembles what I call a "Cthulhu Dog".

Darabont's focus, however, is not entirely on the monsters outside; but the monsters on the inside as well. There is much tension between the human characters; there's a religious fanatic amongst them, turning people against one another at every chance she gets, and eventually developing her own little cult of followers. Those who still hold on to their remaining humanity attempt to survive and care for whoever else shares there all-too-human qualities; the main protagonist of the story himself is a loving father, trapped inside the store with his young son. There are a lot of other characters too; some who we care about, and others who we don't.

I have read King's original story, and it's quite brilliant; yet, I will not bring myself to point out parallels and criticize how "faithful" Darabont was to the material. He was faithful enough for it to be a satisfying watch; in a sense, he makes it his own vision. He changes the ending and crafts intense moments as only filmmakers can. I liked that. I also liked how he didn't simply take the easy way out when it came to creating the creatures that we do see; the visual effects are beautiful, grotesque, and all-together complex. It's a visual feast, and in some instances, a rather intellectual one too. The drama is believable (for the most part), and Darabont's attempts at making "The Mist" something more than just a simple monster movie are for the most part successful. The actors do their jobs; some better than others, especially Marcia Gay Harden as the religious fanatic that I have spoken of earlier. The best actor/actress in the film for sure.

I enjoyed "The Mist" because those behind it enjoyed themselves too. Darabont was doing what he does best when he made this film; to many, it might not be as stable or likable as his "The Shawshank Redemption" or "The Green Mile", but he's got a thing for crafting human drama, and he knows how to make a real satisfactory and respectable Stephen King adaptation. What's not to admire about his style? Is "The Mist" his best film? No, it is not. Is it a great one at all? Again, no. But it's thoroughly enjoyable in a number of ways, from a number of different angles. It can be seen as an entertaining and old-fashioned B-movie, or one could see it as an intense drama of both visual and surprisingly human spectacle. Let's just say that when things get intense in the store, we believe it, we go along with it, and we await what will happen next. It's the kind of film that keeps getting better as it goes along. And I appreciated that, amongst all the typical filth that Hollywood tends to release into what should be the sewer, but instead ends up to be the general theater. This is a film with both ambition and wit to spare; and I was all over it.

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October 29, 2011
one thing that really made this one work for me is that killer ending...nice review.
 
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More The Mist reviews
review by . January 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There's a Stephen King novel called "Misery" in which an author, Paul Sheldon is held hostage by his "number one fan."  In reality where life is often not so much like a Stephen King novel, King himself may have a number one fan when it comes to adaptations.  His friend Frank Darabont.  Darabont wrote and directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.  When it came to King, these were both prison dramas.  The Mist is the first time Darabont …
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
To me this book is better than the movie. I couldn't put it down. It was scary, but yet not too gory.
review by . March 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
dvd cover
THE MIST is directed by Frank Darabont; after his somewhat misfire "The Majestic", he is poised to redeem himself with an adaptation of one of Stephen King's novellas. Darabont wrote the screenplay and directed this horror film that left a smile on my face after watching it in theaters. This film is a welcome return to contemporary horror filmmaking after an overload of tiresome torture flicks and Asian long-haired ghosts.       After an electrical storm hits a small …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
I was in awe, what an end! Remember, there is hope even when we cannot see. I like this novel.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
Here is another Stephen King novel that, if you're a fan, you won't want to miss.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
This was my least favorite of his books. Not bad just not for me.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Was surprised at the different feel from the film, very entertaining.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The ending was quite unexpectedly awesome.
review by . December 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Sartre, perhaps, said it best: "hell is other people," i.e. we do a good enough job making life difficult for each other here on Earth, so who needs demons?    Following a violent storm that wrecks his studio, illustrator David Drayton takes his son Billy into town for supplies. Once there, however, an unnatural mist traps them in the supermarket. The situation goes from inconvenient to horrific when they discover there are monsters in the mist; but mistrust and paranoia lead …
review by . May 12, 2009
The Mist (2007) is a very entertaining film from Frank Darabont. I was surprised by how well this film was. Because Frank Darabont directed it, I thought it would be another weepy flick like The Green Mile or The Shawshank Redemption. Boy was I wrong. I would rank this at the top of Stephen King's movie adaptations. It not only stayed very true to the original source material, but it improved on several things (Mrs. Carmody was hot instead of a being an old crone being one). The story is one of …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

Writer-director Frank Darabont, who showcased the softer side of Stephen King in his film adaptations ofThe Shawshank RedemptionandThe Green Mile, turns to darker material forThe Mist, his latest King adaptation about a group of ordinary townspeople trapped in a supermarket by a mysterious fogbank. Thomas Jane is top-billed as a Maine illustrator who attempts to calm the frightened shoppers, but his job is cut out for him from the get-go, first by the discovery of malevolent creatures lurking in the mist, and then by the mad mutterings of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a local eccentric who calls for Old Testament-style sacrifices to appease the supernatural forces. Darabont delivers monster movie thrills and understated social commentary with equal skill, and he's well supported by his cast (which includes Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler and Jeffrey DeMunn) and the vivid special effects by KNB EFX, which effectively mix CGI with models and stop-motion animation (the terrific monsters were designed by legendary comic book artist Bernie Wrightson). And for those curious about how the novella's downbeat ending has translated to film, suffice it to say that Darabont's conclusion is at once different and more unsettling than King's.--Paul Gaita
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Details

Director: Frank Darabont
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 21 November 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Stephen King
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: Genius Products (TVN)
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