Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffery DeMunn
Plot: When a dangerous mist looms over a town, the locals take shelter in a supermarket, where they begin to turn on one another…
Stephen King has always been a bit of a hit and miss author with me. He comes out with so many books, so most of the time you get fairly pathetic attempts at a horror. He also has a writing style that I just can’t relax into. He will have a good horror atmosphere going and then decide the reader needs three pages of back story of the creepy piano music that just kicked in and its relevance to the entire horror genre. This means that when it comes to the actual story, I need the movies to prove to me how good they actually are.
The Mist begins with a mist (shocker!) that settles over a town. Everyone that goes into the Mist is ripped to shreds, so the survivors of the town hide out in the nearest building they can find, which is a supermarket. Of course, they all have people on the outside. The lead hero, David Drayton, has a wife at home, who he is desperate to fight his way too. Also among the supermarket crowd is a religious fanatic, Mrs. Carmody, who begins converting people to the idea that Satan is punishing them for their infidelity. There are also a handful of soldiers who might know more about what is going on than they are letting on.
The interesting thing about the Mist is that as soon as the movie settles, the film becomes so much more than a monster movie. This is a film about people and how they deal with intense scenarios. Much like ‘The Walking Dead’ or ’28 Days Later’, humans become the most monstrous thing about the movie. Mrs. Carmody is terrifying, especially at the end, where she is able to plant the idea that one of the characters should be punished and her growing number of followers brutally murder them. Darabont is a fantastic director when it comes to these scenes and the Mist borders on the fine line of ‘so horrifying that it is almost unwatchable’. But, when you’ve finished this film, you will be glad that you subjected yourself to it.
Although the people are the scariest thing here that isn’t to say that the monsters don’t deliver. We see very little of them, following the route of never giving us a full reveal. The first monster that we only ever see a tentacle is never revealed. If that sounds more frustrating that atmospheric to you, don’t panic: there are more monsters to fully get to grips with. We have bird-like creatures that enter the film during the midway point and the scene with the spiders is eerily creepy. Personally, the monsters could have been a little scarier in my books, although this is the kind of film that has enough thriller and action elements to make up for a slight lack in horror.
The cast is made up with smaller actors that you might not have encountered before. With Darabont as a director, Walking Dead fans might have fun playing bingo with the actors here. We have Laurie Holden in a suitably big role, as the lead’s potential love interest. The lead actor and most famous star here is Thomas Jane, who is the kind of actor who is undeniably good, yet has never reached that A-List star territory. This is his finest performance yet, playing the father who is on the verge of losing everything, yet stays strong for the rest of the survivors, including his young son. I like the fact that there isn’t a massively famous actor here, as this movie works best, when you are unsure who is going to die next. I was also impressed at how we have so many characters, yet that never becomes too much of a problem. Darabont handles everyone well.
The shock ending is what takes this movie from good horror to great movie. Darabont changes the conclusion of the book, but King himself has admitted that this ending is better than his own. It is beautifully bleak and takes the film to a place you are surprised it had the bravery to go. The film ends, leaving the audience mind-blown and we all respect Darabont that little bit more.
Final verdict: A monster movie with smaller set-pieces and more character driven. Worth a watch for not only horror fans, but movie lovers of any kind.