Stephen King adaptations are touchy subjects for movie fans. For every Green Mile there’s a Dreamcatcher. However, if it takes a couple of tries to end up at something like The Mist, it’s worth it. This is an effective, creepy, and thought-provoking creature feature, easily one of the best of its kind in years.
By the 10 minute mark, The Mist already has you in its grasp. The flawless sense of dread which slowly builds into sheer terror of the unknown is handled effectively by director Frank Darabont. Every scare is pitch perfect. He should be the only director bringing King’s work to the screen.
Intensity here is remarkable. Full blown creature attacks are rare, but when used, they’re unflinching in their brutality. Monster designs are spectacular, both logical and fearsome. The slight, small explanation is enough to get by on to give the audience enough of a base for believability.
Yet, there’s a lot more to The Mist. As much as it is an intense horror piece, it’s a take on humans and their reactions to the unexplainable. Marcia Gay Harden is despised as a religious extremist, stuck inside the small town's grocery store with the locals. Her slow descent into insanity is just as horrifying as the monsters, and also allows for character development through her actions.
The rather standard cast of characters that populates these movies is in full effect here, but doesn’t detract from the proceedings. The cast handle their roles perfectly, fitting into the necessary niches nicely. Some off special effects (the tentacles) and some throwaway sub-plots (the brief romance) also aren’t enough to destroy the impact of an unexpected, shocking ending that sticks with you.
This is how all monster movies should be done. It provides monsters in droves, a gripping story, and something more in the end. It’s just shy of perfect for this genre.
Where this transfer starts off flawlessly, lacking any noise or grain, it takes a slight downturn as things move on. It’s still showcasing some fine color, sharpness, and detail. However, it becomes noisy in darker scenes, and any long shots suffer from noticeable compression artifacting. Whites are blown out at times, though the black levels remain consistent and strong.
A disappointing 5.1 mix isn’t as strong as it could have been. While it delivers some room shaking bass when needed, the rest of the track is flat. Some positional dialogue occurs in the stereo channels, and there is the occasional surround use as the flying creatures attack. Yet, there are multiple chances for this track to shine, and everything stays firmly front loaded.
For a single disc release, The Mist still has a decent amount of extras. A commentary by Darabont starts things off, and he continues his thoughts through 15 minutes of eight deleted scenes. Drew Struzan – Appreciation of an Artist is a seven and a half minute piece on the famed movie poster artist whose work is featured in the film. Three webisodes offer a decent look behind the scenes for 10 minutes, while trailers end the special features.
William Sadler, who plays Jim Grodin in this film version of The Mist, has been part of this story before. He took the starring role in the audio version of the story. That role went to Thomas Jane on film.