Plots stemming from the brain of Stephen King have been adapted into motion pictures more than one hundred times over. The Mist represents only the third instance of author King and director Frank Darabont uniting on a production. Darabont’s previous takes on Stephen King’s storylines were The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile — arguably two of the few great King-inspired features.
With these classics in mind, walking into The Mist without a preconceived anticipation of excellence is difficult. Yet a speed bump exists in that this is Darabont’s first attempt at a Stephen King horror story versus a dramatic one. Even so, The Mist lives up to its heightened expectations, smoothly rolls over the speed bump, and proves that King’s horror can still be intelligently adapted.
The Mist commences with movie poster artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) painting his latest project. Suddenly, a storm results in a power outage, as trees crash and cause heavy property damage. After observing the damage, David decides to confront his neighbor, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), about filing an insurance claim.
Once the pair agrees to exchange insurance information, Mr. Norton and Mr. Drayton head into market with David’s son, Billy (Nathan Gamble). Meanwhile, David’s wife, Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz), remains at home, as a mysterious mist looms off the mountain side.
Terror soon ensues as a blood-splattered man enters the town supermarket claiming that something in the mist “took” his friend. Furthermore, when a few men watch a young grocery store clerk get sucked into oblivion by the unimaginable, panic and paranoia begin to mount.
Trapped in a grocery store (with a solid glass front), the town’s citizens diverge into three defined groups: those who are convinced the horror in the mist is nothing more than a hoax, those who become biblically inspired by the town cook, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), and those who know the only way to escape the mist is to fight whatever roams within its walls.
The Mist’s main pratfall is associated with the animation — and minor at that. While some of the beasts look intimidating, realistic, and even awe-inspiring, others look cheap, goofy, and obviously animated. Otherwise, the lead’s son presents a few discrepancies such as the amount of time he is separated from his father without worry, the constant attention and reassuring he requires, and the lack of sheer fear in spite of the magnitude of the situation.
On the other hand, the film is most deserving of praise for depicting a demanding disaster situation and accurately portraying the disturbing changes in group psychology associated. Simply stated, The Mist is an interesting observation of human social behavior — with religion playing a key role. As a band of followers form, they remain guarded, convinced in their beliefs, and willing to become violent in order to protect their ideals and allies. The Mist presents an informed discussion on this matter mid-film; despite its brevity, this sequence is direct, largely applicable, and well said.
For all those who fear that The Mist is yet another piss-poor, vapor-inspired scheme a la The Fog, fear not. The Mist intensifies around every bend — culminating in an extremely unsettling finale. The film is a rare gem about the anxiety associated with the loss of a loved one and the cost of pessimism more so than "boo" moments.
Also listed as Stephen King’s The Mist, The Mist is a bona fide horror that is a new age classic. It’s no wonder that King wanted his name attached to the title. While The Mist vaguely reminds viewers of Dreamcatchers and The Rapture simultaneously, it is an exquisitely directed, apocalyptic epic horror that should make all involved swollen with pride.
Even if you’ve had mixed emotions about approaching a picture that begins with the words “Stephen King’s,” don’t judge this novella-inspired feature by its cover; dive right into The Mist, and you won’t be disappointed.
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