The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont really loves him some Stephen King, having adapted and directed the writer’s work almost exclusively for the duration of his career. While The Shawshank Redemption may be Darabont’s most fondly remembered effort, The Mist is an underappreciated creature feature.
David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head to town for some groceries. Meanwhile, a tear in the space/time continuum (who’s to blame?!) opens a doorway to alien monsters. So he, his boy, and a dozen or so other shoppers all find themselves trapped inside this glass-fronted store just waiting for rescue or death.
Marcia Gay Harden is characteristically brilliant. As the religious zealot who turns survival inside the store into something less likely than survival out with the monsters, she brings a little George Romero to this Stephen King.
In a Romero film, no matter how great the threat from the supernatural, the real monsters tend to be the rest of the humans. King does not generally go there, but he does so with The Mist and it’s what makes this one of his most effective films.
While Harden excels in a way that eclipses all other performances, the whole cast offers surprisingly restrained and emotional turns – Toby Jones is especially effective.
The FX look good, too, and let’s be honest, a full-on monster movie with weak FX is the lamest. The way Darabont frames the giants, in particular, gives the film a throw-back quality to the old matinee creature features. But he never gives into cheekiness or camp. The Mist is a genuinely scary film – best seen, if you can grab the original 2-disk DVD release, in the black and white version the filmmaker packaged alongside the theatrical release.
Regardless, it’s the provocative ending that guarantees this one will sear itself into your memory. Though this is likely what kept The Mist from gaining an audience in theaters, it is a brilliant and utterly devastating scene that elevates the film from great creature feature to great film.
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