2hrs, 2 mins
R, for violence, terror, gore, and language.
What would you do if suddenly there was no power, no water, no social infrastructure that supported your way of life, unexplainable monsters began to attack you and their was no way to explain what was happening?
Stephen King's story of a small Maine town (who's surprised?) that is suddenly shrouded in a thick fog that holds monstrous creatures is considered one of Kings more memorable. Frank Darabont, the man responsible for two other well received Stephen King film adaptations, tries with obsequious fan boy devotion to faithfully adapt a third with Kings classic Horror story The Mist.
True to the original story the movie opens swiftly on a stormy night that causes heavy damage. The next morning our protagonist, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), his son, and a neighbor head off to the local store to get supplies. While in line to check out a thick fog covers the town and monsters begin to prowl. The shoppers soon learn that it is far safer inside the store than to wander out into the unknown horrors outside.
Stephen King's The Mist Photos: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Frank Darabont. © Weinstein Company
As the tension rises Mrs.Carmody, the town zealot, played with ticking craziness by Marcia Gay Harden, gains more credibility after each monster attack claiming that the hand of God is punishing mankind. I n the meantime the more stable try desperately to maintain decorum and seek escape or rescue but is there anybody left to rescue them?
Technically speaking Darabont leaves his polished tracking shots and cinematography for a more shaky, hand held camera lending the film a certain reality. Grainy shots of darkness in the monotone of white are eerie and useful and the limited use of score helps to heighten the reality of the story.
As for the writing, the film hits the ground running, leaving less than 5 minutes from the titles to the aforementioned mist covering the town but then writer/director Darabont decides to get a little wordy and it's midsection and the momentum begins to lag. Many have made complaints about the certain archetypes portrayed herein. I wouldn't blame Darabont for this as the source material is very King and these portrayal are typical in his world.
Does the film work? No. It is ultimately a claustrophobic little piece of horror whose pacing is off and whose source material is not as strong as it should be. Darabont tries to sand down the rough edges of Kings original story but, despite his love for the material, some things can't be fixed. The ending of the film ups the ante and cranks up the dread and horror. It was then that I realized Darabont did not like his audience and wanted to twist the knife further than King ever did.
For those who are King lovers, this is a wonderful feast. A visualization of one of his most beloved stories. For the rest of the moviegoing public, beware. This is not a happy film. This film will not make you feel good. This film wants to hurt you, make you cringe, and make you feel dread and fear. Do you want that?
Let me know what you thought.