The Mist (2007)

The Mist centres on the inhabitants of a small town somewhere in America, as they are subjected to a mysterious storm followed by a rolling fog that brings with it unknown creatures that pose a serious threat to their respective mortalities. Stephen King adaptations generally fall into one of three categories for me; those that are fantastically well done and destined to be classics (Carrie, The Shining), those that are so dire they made me want to open a vein for some sweet relief (The Tommyknockers, The Langoliers) and those that were really quite good until the galling moment, right near the end where they were ruined by a crap-tacular CGI spider (I won’t insult your intelligence by naming and shaming that little gem). Given this prior knowledge, I wasn’t expecting miracles but also taking into account Frank Darabonts previous success in bringing King’s stories to the screen I let myself have a little hope. In short, I’m glad I did because I was pleasantly surprised by The Mist. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting too much that I enjoyed it as much as I did? Who knows. It’s certainly not without it’s faults.

The few things that prevented me from giving it a higher score were as follows; the over-use of questionably executed CGI monsters, the Hallmark movie-of-the-week production values and the lengthy running time. I hate CGI, simple as that. When it’s used as much as it was in this movie it usually has me reaching for the ‘off’ button but fortunately, the story was compelling enough to keep me interested. The CGI isn’t badly done as such, it’s just obvious and with the knowledge that the actors are reacting to something that isn’t really there then it hampers my enjoyment and certainly doesn’t make for a scary flick. As for the production values, let me start by saying that they weren’t rubbish, there was obviously a decent amount of money pumped into this movie. It just has a made-for-TV ‘feel’ about it and I can’t quite explain why, it just does. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean. Finally, the running time may not be seen as excessive at a little over two hours, but at times, the film does drag (although, bizarrely, it‘s Darabont’s shortest ever film). I understand why certain scenes were included but I don’t think it would have affected the overall result if a few more had hit the cutting room floor.

The cast is headed by Thomas Jane (of Deep Blue Sea and The Punisher fame) and he is accompanied by acting stalwarts Marcia Gay Harden and William Sadler, who both excel in their roles as miscellaneous townsfolk. In fact all of the acting is pretty darn good but the one true standout, in my humble opinion, is Brit actor Toby Jones who well and truly steals the show as a straight-talking Supermarket employee who takes shit from no-one and can handle a gun like a pro. Harden is frustratingly good as the barmy religious zealot attempting to incite the town to indulge in a little vigilante justice. Every time she appeared on screen I dug my nails into the sides of the couch and tried not to concentrate too hard on hoping that her inevitable death would be slow and painful. One can only assume that her performance must have been good given that it provoked such a strong reaction.

That’s not the only thing that resonated with me. The ending was incredibly emotionally affecting and at the risk of provoking the Stephen King puritans who were hoping for the original ending to pull out their pitchforks and chase me outta town; I loved it. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and one of the very few occasions where a horror film has left me reeling, even after the credits had rolled. The Mist has its faults but I think they’re outweighed by its strengths and if you want a well-acted, old fashioned monster movie with a bit of depth then look no further. I chose to ignore any possible ‘messages’ about the human condition but if you wanted to dig a little deeper then I’m sure there’d be plenty to think about on that level too.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

2 Comments on “The Mist”

  1. Great review. I love this film, but I had the same problems with the CGI and TV movie style beginning as you did.

    The ending though is a true gut punch and stays with you a long long time. Great acting and excellent use of the Dead Can Dance music at the end

    • admin says:

      The ending was definitely pretty harsh! I’d never expected a happy ending where they all bugger off into the sunset but it still took me by surprise. I’m glad that Darabont decided to veer away from the ending in the novel, it wouldn’t have been nearly as emotionally affecting.

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