Director – Frank Darabont
Cast – Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Nathan Gamble, Alexa Davalos, Chris Owen, Sam Witwer, Robert C. Treveiler, David Jensen, Melissa Suzanne McBride
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Mist is one film that managed to so awesomely portray its horror to me that I have never forgotten my film experience when I first saw this in theaters years ago. After giving this another watch I am able to reaffirm my confidence in this film, thanks much to the multiple types of horror we have in this watch. This is not just your usual run-of-the-mill monster film, but one that involves sociological horror that we all can relate to, and should maybe be afraid of…
After a violent storm ravages a small Maine town, Hollywood artist Dave Drayton(Thomas Jane) takes his son and arrogant neighbor, lawyer Brent Norton, to get supplies from a local supermarket. They notice a strong mist making its way across town, but think nothing of it despite numerous personnel from a local military base heading directly toward it. After arriving at the supermarket they learn the true, horrific nature of “the mist”. Something not of this world lurks in the mist, and Dave, his son, Brent, and the local townsfolk are forced to hole up inside the supermarket, which proves to be a bad idea. The true horror does not lie in the mist outside of the supermarket, but in the drastic measures human beings will take when faced with unbeatable odds.
It is not very often that we get horror films that come with a punch like The Mist. Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novella of the same title, writer/director Frank Darabont(The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) took King’s novella to new levels by bringing us a first-hand visual experience of this awesome tale, and with many additional unique elements that make for a truly memorable, and haunting watch.
Right from the get-go Frank Darabont throws us into his dark and gloomy atmosphere, with excellent sets that truly resemble a small, isolated, sleepy Maine town despite the fact this watch was filmed in….Louisiana? Yes, great direction allows you to work wonders with whatever you have, and Darabont did just that. His visuals and camerawork make for a visually engaging watch, especially his unique sets and usage of “the mist”, which was downright creepy and well employed. Quite similar to John Carpenter’s The Fog, there is just something about a pale and ashy tangible presence on the move, one that includes many horrors within it, that makes for some good horror. I really loved that Darabont brought on some sweet looking creatures to occupy and come forth from the “mist”, giant creatures that were Lovecraftian in nature, and smaller ones reminiscent of those mentioned in The Bible’s book of Revelation. Most of these creatures came to us in the form of some moderate CGI, but I found myself quite forgiving given that most of what was required of the creatures would have been very hard to accomplish live-action, so it accepted them as they were. Thankfully, the aftermath the creatures left was given to us mainly through live-action FX, with some great gore and awesome kill sequences sure to affect the squeamish.
Despite all of these awesome elements regarding Darabont’s direction, his TRUE achievement in this film is the true sense of horror this film brings…the social breakdown of our characters. His execution of his actors was top notch, with each one of them delivering a solid performance and bringing the utmost tension with them. The hideous Marcia Gay Harden delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as a psychotic religious zealot who manages to gain a following when some of her predictions come true, a true testament to how a great actor/actress coupled with good directional execution can completely engulf a film and give you an experience you will never forget, whether you enjoyed it or not. The chaos going on inside the supermarket feels real, and I must commend Mr. Darabont for expertly executing some very hard to watch and infuriating scenes sure to work up 99.9% of all those who have seen this film. Yes, he is THAT good.
Story-wise this film excels greatly, and rivals Darabont’s awesome direction. I really loved the idea of a strange mist coming seemingly out of nowhere and occupying a small town, then delivering some heinous creatures to add to the horror. There was much mystery involved regarding the origin of the “mist” at first, and once things get going we slowly receive more and more info, which made for a pretty interesting and relatable revelation regarding the origins of the evil that dwells in it. To make things even sweeter, the written usage of the creatures made for some great horror as well, given they did not just merely aim to maim their victims, but infect them and even lay eggs inside of them, which provided some pretty sweet and freaky scenes thanks to Darabont’s direction.
Of course, most importantly…the story excels mainly because of its usage or character conflict, horror, and drama. When it comes to horror most horror films tend to focus on what visually scares viewers, but this watch goes much further than that and uses normal human beings as the source of the true horror in this watch. The social breakdown shows just how vile, selfish, and pathetic humans can be when they are faced with a situation they have no control over. One small snippet of dialogue between Amanda Dunfrey and David Drayton(Thomas Jane) explains this quite well; Amanda: “People are basically good; decent. My God, David, we’re a civilized society.”, David: “Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them – no more rules.”. Many worthwhile social statements are made regarding how human beings react to such things, about how we naturally search for a savior, ANYONE, to save us when we reach hard times that are beyond our control, and we get such antics from the characters in this film. Basically, King and Darabont gave us a story that pits Shakespeare’s “people fighting people” into the horror genre, and coupled with some traditional horror regarding the monsters in the mist…makes for a fantastic and hard-hitting watch.
I must also say that thanks to Darabont adding in a few unique elements of his own we get one of the most horrific horror climaxes of all time. This climax is guaranteed to leave you with your jaw on the floor, a feeling of strong remorse deep within your chest cavity, and whether you like it or not…one of horror’s greatest scenes in which you will NEVER forget.
Overall, this is an amazing horror film that is much more than just an amazing horror film. Frank Darabont once again expertly delivers a Stephen King story with his superb direction, great writing, and excellent horror at the hands of both traditional horror as well as social horror, which we get little of in the genre. If you are looking for a unique horror film that delivers more than you could ever ask for, this is your watch.