November 27, 2007


Review: The Mist

It just so happens; it IS a dark and stormy night...which is why its a very appropriate setting for watching a scary movie.

I just saw The Mist (IMDb) (Trailer), adapted and directed by Frank Darapont, based on a novella by Stephen King, (Note: This is the third feature-length project Darapont has worked on based on a King story; the other two: The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. Interestingly, although this is not Darapont's first horror/thriller film, the genre King is best known for, this is the first feature-length horror/thriller Darapont has directed based on a King story.)

I appreciate the homage right at the start of the film to other classic horrors/thrillers... David Drayton, the main character, has in his home studio covers for books and films; he is an artist who makes covers for a living, one of which closely resembles the original cover for John Carpenter's classic horror The Thing (and in case you haven't seen it, is awesome!) which is appropriate because this film is very similar to The Thing—in both films a group of people are forced to isolate themselves to escape a supernatural menace. And in both it's more about how the characters interact than about the menace.

In The Thing, the characters are researchers in Antarctica isolated by frozen conditions. A wondering dog makes its way into their camp but, as it turns out, is really an alien life-form that has the ability to imitate other life forms it comes in contact with, and naturally it wants to kill and eat them. So, the researchers are forced to isolate themselves and band together.

The Mist is about a small town that undergoes an invasion of vicious creatures that coincides with a mysterious Mist that envelops and isolates the town. The characters are forced to take refuge in a small grocery store. In both films, as the desperation increases, the characters begin to turn on each other.

The Mist does an excellent job of contrasting extreme distorted religiosity with equally unyielding rationalism; both of which come to bloody conclusions; and it presents these points of view in such a way that as the viewer you're never quite sure which side the storytellers are on.

The best part of this movie is Marcia Gay Harden as Ms. Camody. She is so easy to despise; she is the real menace in this film. Good movies, especially those that deal with issues of morality and ethics, tend to have great antagonists. But antagonists are rarely acknowledged in awards ceremonies—if they were, Ms. Harden would deserve some recognition.

Note: The other cover in Drayton's studio at the start of the film is one his is painting which appears to be the main character from King's novel The Gunslinger, an amazing science fiction and first part of the Dark Tower series of novels. Does this mean there might be a film version of The Gunslinger from Darapont? That would be excellent.

overall, aside from some slightly campy dialog, The Mist is pretty good: 4/5

Darapont's next film will be an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic sci-fi Fereinheight 451 (IMDb).