Film Review: The Mist

This is the latest book-to-film conversion from a Stephen King story – in this case the novella The MistFrank Darabont has made these adaptations before, notably with The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.  So, you could say that this is going to be a success from the start, or at least there’s a good chance.  Some would say that perhaps the storyline is a little more far-fetched than either of these works, but holds up well nonetheless.

The premise of the story behind The Mist is surprisingly simple and really has two elements to it.  The first is that David Drayton (a local artist) and his son go on a trip to the store after a storm the previous night does some damage to their home.  Left behind is the wife and mother, Stephanie Drayton.

The two drive to the store in the company of a neighbour.  On their way, they are passed by a significant number of army personnel, the first real sign that something is up.  When they get in the store, a man comes running in with an obvious injury.  He states that something in the mist attacked him and a friend and that it is coming this way.  The mist rolling up the street quickly follows him and prompts a scene of the people left barricading themselves in from the monsters apparently waiting to kill them outside.

The second layer of the story is really about how the people inside of the store deal with the abject terror and unknown that the mist brings.  What are the creatures?  How can they deal with them?  What does it tell us about the universe?  Where some react with pure survival instinct, Mrs Carmody feels that it is the work of God, and some start to believe her – even with the revelation that it could well be a military experiment that has gone terribly wrong.

The acting in The Mist is actually quite good, with Thomas Jane providing the ‘good father’ and hero figure of the film.  When given a horrendous realisation at the end of the film, he portrays this horror with suitable gravitas.  Perhaps the true scene stealer (and the person who you’ll hate, which shows how good the acting is) is Mrs Carmody (played by Marcia Gay Harden).  Her end-of-days theory adds an extra bit of thought to the film, as well as providing a religious backdrop that no doubt many would really turn to in a time of crisis.

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The monsters that begin life as merely creepy then horrific move into the truly bizzare territory.  This is great, given the storyline.  They provide an excellent backdrop to the characters, their motivations and how they react in the crisis.  It really does allow the film to ask all about the ‘human condition’ and what drives us.

I’d also like to say that the atmosphere in the film is quite something else.  Not only do the monsters drive this, but the characters and the situation does too.  Granted, sometimes you might think ‘well I saw that coming’ but you’ll no doubt still revel in the ‘will they won’t they’ of the escape plan, and if the monsters will actually manage to kill everyone in the store before any try to make it to the car.

The ending of the film left some quite cold, whilst others really enjoyed it.  For me, it was a bit of a let down.  I don’t want to say too much, but it isn’t exactly what you’d call Hollywood.  Will you enjoy The Mist?  Almost certainly.  It is a great addition to the horror genre and you’ll be pleased to see something other than a Saw or a Hostel blood-and-guts film.

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