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The Mist

A horror movie.

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Effective Portrayal of Pure Human Terror and Hopelessness

  • Mar 3, 2009
Rating:
+4

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 town in Maine, a resident named David Drayton (Thomas Jane) with his son and "not in too much good terms" neighbor (Andre Braugher) goes to town to pick up some food and supplies. In no time at all, the area is engulfed with a mysterious mist with almost no visibility and brings nail-biting terror to all the people in the grocery store. Trapped inside, some people (with Toby Jones and Laurie Holden) look for a way to survive, while some led by a religious fanatic (Marcia Gay Hayden) look at the mist as a sign from God and a harbinger of end times.

scene outside

The direction by Darabont is gripping. He successfully managed to bring out all the expected emotions when scared folks of different character with different beliefs come together in one enclosed space. The result is a nail biting, unsettling tale of suspense that is the result for survival and blind human panic. The ingenuity of "The Mist" is that it effectively avoids the usual clichés to generate sympathy and induce scares. The film relies on the emotional reaction of its characters; while it is a straightforward tale of man versus the unknown, he uses character interaction as a means to express raw fear and panic. This is a very effective approach as it preserves the film's premise as a claustrophobic situation and helped me realize the potential panic in this situation.

The Mist relies on its effective script to immerse the viewer in the hopelessness of the situation. Sure, it is not perfect, and has its weaknesses. The occasionally snappy banter in the film's first half of the film may turn off some viewers but I believe it helps the proceedings connect with the audience and give a subtle background of the town folk. The usual cliché of military blame is explored but the film quickly sidesteps this factor--the lack of a solid explanation may also frustrate some viewers. Some blood and gore is also inherent in the film but I think it was used sparingly and the timing/situation is perfect for such things; it never felt as a cheap way to generate routine scares. The screenplay relies more on cerebral suspense than on the computer-generated blood and effects to generate suspense.

scene

I think the reason why "The Mist" is so effective is because the terror comes in two fronts of the battlefield. Mob panic and hysteria is promoted by a stupid religious zealot; Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Hayden) who is made as the unbalanced villain. She fashions herself as the light and the messenger of God's word. She portrays God as a vengeful deity who is bent on "hellfire and brimstone" for all unbelievers. She feeds on a person's desire to be comforted and to belong in a very desperate situation. Carmody's sermons were rejected at first but human ineptitude takes its hold especially on a situation like this. The second source of horror is the rampage of the creatures that consists of spider-like and locusts-like creatures with almost "human" features threaten the lives of the people in the store. There are also a few giant-like monsters in the film but I think at this point, the less you know the better. I have to say that the threat of the creatures seemed very minor at the time compared to the threat of scared people who is willing to do anything to feed their misconceptions.

Aside from the direction and the strong script, the film's key to its success is the top-notched effects and creature designs. Although the creature designs may not be wholly original, they do look inspired and fit the film's representation of the unknown. The spider-like monsters may look rip-offs from other films of science fiction but they are nonetheless fitting to the film's tone. The performance of the cast is also worth mentioning. The main performers along with the supporting cast successfully portray their characters with convincing fervor; I couldn't help but become immersed in the proceedings. Frank Darabont seemed to have found the right actors for the right job.

"The Mist" may have strayed from the original ending as Stephen King's novel and would prove to be its main weakness. Myself, I rather thought it made the film even darker and unpredictable. The twist in the final act closes the film with a large exclamation point that portrays pure hopelessness and human error. THE MIST is an effective blend of intense human drama and raw terror that is very effective because it cuts through human emotion. It managed to sidestep the usual histrionics and replaces it with a beautiful bleak attitude bereft in ultimate irony. The film has a very honest but disturbing vision of human horror.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! For horror fans. [ 4+ stars]

Note: On the 2-disc edition of the film, there is a black and white version; which is arguably the better style and version. I think this is because that the film felt more like a classic contemporary horror film.

dvd cover scene scene scene scene scene outside

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December 28, 2010
I liked this one as well although I knew going in I was going to enjoy it, also I did like "The Majestic".
 
March 08, 2009
This is really weird, Woop. I get a message saying there's a reply to my comment but twice now there isn't any reply.
March 08, 2009
Karen, check out the green arrow at the bottom of your comment--you will see the reply.
March 10, 2009
Oh.
 
March 05, 2009
I left it alone. It had been reviewed to hell and back and saw nothing worth adding to what had been said. Plus I'm normally not a fan of Stephen King or the films made from his genre work. It turns out though that I actually did like this one because they managed to put a sock on the religious ranter who is a stock character in all of King's stuff--at least those that have more than 2 or 3 characters in 'em. Every time one pops up I just roll my eyes. Boring. What did appeal to me was the only slight attempt at explaining what had happened and the fact that the explanation made it all sound like the military had opened a very Lovecraftian can of worms. Cool. As a horror fan since the age of 4 1/2 (and a lifelong pessimist, er, realist) I've always wondered at what point I'd consider just cashing in my chips if I found myself in a horror movie. So I liked the ironic ending to the film.
March 06, 2009
Karen, well said, my queen. I always get intrigued when sheer human panic comes into play. It's amazing what us humans are capable of when we lose our composure....
 
March 04, 2009
Thanks, T-man! I did really like this when I went to see it in theaters. I know our amazon crew was a little divided on this film, and I can see why you may dislike the ending (but you know me, I love bleak endings). The black and white version rules!!
 
1
More The Mist reviews
review by . October 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** 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 …
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.
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.
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 …
review by . October 30, 2008
The Mist - A Movie
After a raging storm that knocks out all power, David Drayton and his young son Billy head into town for supplies. Along for the ride is neighbor Norton, whom David doesn't normally get along with. Before leaving home, David and his family wonder about the strange mist hovering over the lake. Once in town, he discovers the power is out there too, and the checkout lines in the grocery store are long.     Then, they notice the mist rolling across the store's parking lot. They hear …
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About this movie

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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