The Mist (2007)
The Mist (2007)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 2 hrs. 6 min.

Release Date: November 21st, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Frank Darabont Actors: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Alexa Davalos

 


 

F

rank Darabont’s drastically altered adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “The Mist” features vicious creatures, recycled characters, and a forfeiture of satisfaction for unpredictability. The film attempts – and partly succeeds – in being more than just a mindless monster flick, although the creatures are on display within the first half hour, leaving little to the imagination (particularly as the gore sets in). Delving into social structures, morality under duress, and a “Lord of the Flies” coup of religion, “The Mist” hopes to make audiences think, all while offering up an all-too-familiar plot that feels forced in places and uncomfortably morbid at others. It’s a strange mixture of alien horror and human horror that dispenses with entertainment value for controversy.

After a roiling storm, David (Thomas Jane) and his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) head into town for supplies. But the casual trip ends with the duo trapped in the supermarket as a thick fog rapidly engulfs the area – as far as the eye can see. When the mist produces several hellish, alien attackers, which lead to the deaths of several of the patrons similarly holed up in the store, the survivors split apart into multiple factions to determine the best way to escape their terrifying predicament.

“The Mist” draws many parallels to (or perhaps steals from) other films (namely disaster movies), including “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno” (or their derivatives, such as “Daylight” and “The Day After Tomorrow”), in which a group of survivors must debate over whether to seek escape or merely wait for rescue. Additionally, links are made to “The Wicker Man” and “Rosemary’s Baby” when a religious fanatic attempts to create a monarchy amongst the group, and then decides that human sacrifices are necessary to keep the creatures at bay. Desperation and fear make for interesting emotions to study (like in the claustrophobic microcosm of “Lifeboat”), especially when the typically heroic father figure contemplates dark decisions that he would never choose under ordinary circumstances.

Though initially, briefly evoking concern about poisonous gas or some other understandable, environmental plight, “The Mist” is quick to give away its secret of otherworldly visitors. Viewers are almost immediately subjected to the visuals of a gargantuan, tentacled beast – and are then left to wonder why the oversized insectoids don’t simply barge through the flimsy windows of the grocery shop. The setting is indeed superb for chaos, with fast zooms and handheld camera movements generating nicely depicted calamities. But ultimately, the film is about faith, and the monsters become a mere layer of horror placed over the morality tale to convince audiences that it is instead a true monster movie. Marcia Gay Harden’s Mrs. Carmody has too much faith – to the point that she insanely proclaims herself as the chosen one from God – while David, on the opposite end of the spectrum, has too little faith. And neither will escape alive without achieving a practically ungraspable balance.

While the most evil beings lurking in the fog may not be the aliens (a motif often found in pictures with extraterrestrial enemies), great care is taken to present several uniquely petrifying beasts, most borrowing features from common phobias. The flying insects and larger pterodactyls all sport top-notch digital effects, while spidery abominations provide more gore than realism. And the most colossal creatures, which would feel right at home in Spielberg’s version of “War of the Worlds,” receive the smallest amount of screentime. Adding to the inventive array of mysterious lifeforms are their respective methods of attack, from stinging and biting to eating away from within. Voracious, cephalopodan appendages and acidic web-spewing are but two of the highlights that heighten the display of carnage.

Despite a rocky resolution, Darabont’s fourth adaptation of a Stephen King story manages to astonish and entertain as a horror film. But it doesn’t fare nearly as well in its examination of the degradation of humanity under adverse situations. It’s a shame the film focused more on the analyzation of conflicting consciences than on the thrills of something along the lines of a zombie movie; “The Mist” couldn’t pull off both thought-provoking and frightening at the same time.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10