The Honest review of Frank Darabont’s The Mist is a trip back to the B movies of the ’50s. It uses many of the same tropes of that era. In fact, this movie is a small scale uncomplicated sci-fi horror mini-classic. It creates a genuine feeling of dread and the style of cinematography helped by the performance of a great ensemble cast make it well worth a visit. 12 cert, 126min. Dir Frank Darabont; starring Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Marcia Gay Harden, Toby Jones, and William Sadler.
The Mist begins with a clever first act which introduces to us many of the main characters in the film. David Drayton played by Thomas Jane and his son Billy are in town buying groceries. They are accompanied by Brent Norton, played by Andre Braugher. There is a belief that there may be some previous problem between the two men. While in the shop the main characters of the movie are introduced. Notably, Mrs. Carmody played by Marcia Gay Harden, the extremely religious spinster, and mild mannered store manager Ollie played by Toby Jones.
During the time our films main characters are established, something happens. The towns alarm system kicks in to action. Army, police and fire engines hurtle towards the edge of town. Shortly after a loud explosion rocks the town and the store all our main characters are in. Much speculation about what occurred begins, including one theory that the local mill exploded. However, a thick mist starts to cover the town. The panic inside the store begins to intensify and the journey into terror begins.
The following third of the film deals with what happens next. It is during this period we learn that some creature or group of creatures have taken over the town. Killing everything that comes near it. As the towns folk inside the store start to panic, human emotion fuelled by fear starts to take over.
The siege of the store by the creatures begins and it becomes apparent that something out of this world is happening. The townsfolk start to split into groups, one led by religious zealot Mrs Carmody. She convinces the people that this is the wrath of God and the fervour unleashed starts to claim lives. The other group led by Drayton is horrified at what is happening but soon realise they must run for their lives.
The film carefully sets up its characters and scenario slowly, concisely putting Thomas Jane’s character David Drayton, in the center of this ensemble acting class. Furthermore, the scary creatures who lay siege to the store do not appear until at least half an hour in to the movie.
These special effects are without doubt the weakest part of the movie. Most of the shots inside the store are very average. However, the outside monsters helped no doubt by the mist do impress. The claustrophobic atmosphere creates a genuine tension and you start to feel sympathy for our heroes as they try to battle the enemy outside and the one inside. The film realistically portrays how society can break down when it is led by fear and suspicion.
The cast gives an excellent ensemble performance. Thomas Jane plays his character perfectly, showing fragility and emotion as well as strength when he needs to. However, it is Marcia Gay Harden’s character of Mrs Carmody that really steals the show. Her mania is terrifying and really adds to both the tension and fear circling around the film. The fervour she shows, and the crazy actions of her followers make you wonder if the creatures outside really are a worse alternative.
The ending is one of the most controversial of all time. For the kind of film this is, the ending was a massive risk. The Director Frank Darabont shoed incredible bravery in his choice. In fact, it is difficult to believe the studio could have been very happy with it. Many modern movies feel that they must have the standard happy ending, but this movie bucks the trend with something memorable and ultimately satisfying.
Overall, this is a film well worth a look. The film did not achieve a big box office and the ending probably did not help. In particular, the audience, in general, does not seem to like sad endings, but this film deserved more praise than it has gotten. In fact, it is far superior to many of the films which both proceeded it and since it’s 2007 release.
This film is based on the 1980 Stephen King book of the same title. There are several changes in the film. These differences are designed to make the movie more accessible to the general audiences. King has in fact, been quoted as saying how much he appreciated and approved the new ending to the movie.
I would recommend this film to anyone, however, if you can, try to locate the black and white version of it. It evokes the feel of the 50’s B movie era and gives it an edge that the colour version takes away. It also helps cover up some of the worse CGI effects and helps heighten the tension.