November 21, 2007
Frank Darabont (screenplay) and Stephen King (novella)
Thomas Jane as David Drayton
Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody
Laurie Holden as Amanda Dumfries
Andre Braugher as Brent Norton
I love Stephen King, and film adaptations of Stephen King novels are among my favorite horror movies of all time. The thing about Stephen King is, rarely does everyone live happily ever after. I never know exactly how I feel about that. On one hand I love the “feel good horror movie”; you know, the one where the determined young lovely defies the odds to finally defeat the mask-wearing slasher and live on…emotionally scarred for life perhaps, but alive and basically well. On the other hand life isn’t usually like that, and many of the best horror movies are not like that either.
Enter, The Mist. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is working on a movie poster illustration project when he notices a dramatic storm rolling in. He packs his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) and son Billy (Nathan Gamble) into the basement to weather the… weather. The family awakes to find quite a bit of damage caused by fallen trees and such, along with a strange mist rolling over the water toward the house. Assuming the mist is just a normal after-effect of the storm David and son head off to town for supplies.
While in the grocery store waiting his turn for check-out David Drayton witnesses several emergency vehicles roar by, a few determined military vehicles and finally a bloodied and screaming man crying that “there is something in the mist!” A mysterious white cloud has enveloped the entire town, and all of the grocery customers become trapped inside the store as venturing outside results in certain death by mysterious monsters.
Imprisoned in close quarters and scared to death of terrible and unexplained happenings, the group inside the store starts to demonstrate primitive survival-type behaviors. Alliances form, psychotic religious death-squads emerge…you know, the usual human response to disaster situations.
The Mist is, in grand Stephen King style, a treatment of the horrific in terms of monstrous happenings, the drive for survival, social interaction in the face of adversity and the human need for someone to lead and “fix things”. The monsters are very frightening, but it is the people that are the most horrifying. Add to the equation the town’s crazy religious fanatic and suddenly you can see how women were burned as witches’ years ago.
The acting is nothing short of stupendous. Thomas Jane shares a depth of passion and emotion that is utterly heart-wrenching, and Marcia Gay Harden as the fanatical Mrs. Carmody is intense, believable and compelling. The entire supporting cast, from the Stephen King staple Frances Sternhagen as the old school teacher Irene to the young Nathan Gamble as the terrified child, plays their part to perfection.
The effects in The Mist are near perfect as well, as are the cinematography, music, lighting and screenplay. Overall this film is very beautifully done, complete with scares, suspense, action and drama.
Remember what I said earlier about “feel good horror”? The Mist isn’t it. I won’t give anything away, but suffice it to say that I left the theater completely speechless, and it took the entire drive home and 45 minutes sitting in front of my computer before my head cleared enough to even consider writing a review. I highly recommend this one, but be prepared for an emotional ride.