July 14, 2008

The Mist (2007)

Writer-director Frank Darabont has a successful history of making movies based on stories by Stephen King. The Shawshank Redemption is an amazing film that eventually found widespread acclaim and immortality on home video. Some people claim The Green Mile was manipulative and hokey, but it remains one of my 20 favorite films of all time.

For both of these reasons, I was excited to watch Darabont’s adaptation of King’s novella The Mist. And while I can’t say it ranks as high for me as Shawshank or Green Mile, it’s a film that has stuck with me for days since viewing it.

The film opens in rural Maine with movie poster artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his family weathering a violent storm. The next morning, as a mysterious mist crosses the lake behind their house, Drayton and his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) head into town with estranged neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher). While they’re at the supermarket, a local man charges through the front door, blood smeared across his face, screaming to everyone inside to lock the doors – that there’s “something in the mist” that “got” his buddy.

Drayton is the first to notice that there just might be something out there, when he sees the large, closed metal door to the store’s loading dock getting pounded by something outside. When a couple of the locals open the door to clean the vent to the store’s generator, a slew of large slimy tentacles violently drag off one of the bagboys.

Things get progressively worse as some of the creatures in the mist bust through the glass storefront and attack the people inside; a group (led by Braugher) decides to leave and is torn to pieces; and a religious woman (Marcia Gay Harden, in an intimidating, under-your-skin performance) slowly but surely convinces people that it’s the end of days, and the mist and its creatures are God’s wrath coming down. (Giant locusts work to prove her point.)

After the first hour of The Mist, I didn’t have much faith. There’s isn’t a lot of action, and the development of the trapped characters doesn’t happen as much as you’d hope. However, the second half of the film cranks up the suspense, creepiness factor, and boiling over of personalities to almost make up for the previous 60 minutes.

The Mist is just as much about the dynamic of the people in the supermarket as what’s in the mist, and Darabont achieves a decent balance of both. He also does a superb job of showing the power of mob mentality in times of crisis.

Then there’s the ending. I won’t give anything away, but The Mist contains one of the most disturbing, unsettling endings I’ve seen since Se7en. It’s a one-two punch of a finale that will leave you deflated...yet thinking about it for days to come.

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5).

Will your kids want to see it?
If you have teenage kids, let’s be honest: The Mist is the kind of movie they’ll enjoy watching so they can scare the hell out of themselves. And while it is rated R, I doubt there’s anything amongst the carnage and profanities that they haven’t seen in other films or on the Internet.

However, if you have pre-teens in your house, I highly recommend keeping this film away from them. It’s not just a typical creature feature; there are scenes between the people and the creatures – and even between the people themselves – that can traumatize.

Will your FilmMother want to see it?
If you have a FilmMother who likes holding on to your arm during scary movies, then go ahead and watch The Mist together. HOWEVER, if she has issues about films with a child in peril, think twice. David’s son Billy encounters peril throughout the film, and Darabont even takes the peril to a place that most films won’t go.

The Mist
* Director: Frank Darabont
* Screenwriter: Frank Darabont
* Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, Frances Sternhagen
* MPAA Rating: R (violence, horror, gore, and adult language)

Buy this movie for less at Half.com >>


Jason said...

I was amazed, and very disappointed, that Darabont opted to change the novella's ending and go the Shyamalan "wow! Ironic!" route. The original story is one of King's best; the movie is another sad example of Hollywood messing with a good thing.

Zerbinator said...

Amen to that. I loved this film, and when the ending came - my wife dropped jaw, and I said ... and so it goes. Great writing by Stephen King, but very good adaptation by Darabont.

FilmFather said...

Great comments, guys...I was torn about the film ending. While I couldn't shake it for days, part of me did wish that Darabont had stayed true to King's original ending. But then I came across this on the Internet Movie Database, under The Mist's trivia (see last bullet - SPOILER WARNING):


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