Frank Darabont is one talented writer and director, evidenced simply by one of the greatest films of all time The Shawshank Redemption. And even though I am less than a fan (to say the least) of his other prison movie The Green Mile, based on the above-mentioned masterpiece I will see anything he is even involved in.
His latest film The Mist, based as those other mentioned films are on a Stephen King book, is his exploration of a genre unknown to him – the horror/thriller. And there’s a lot to like about it but it’s far from the level he has reached before.
The film centres around a freak storm which unleashes a mysterious mist, and a band of blood-thirsty creatures that lurk within it, on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole-up in a supermarket and try to fight for their lives.
The Mist is by and large a mystery thriller with elements of horror (sometimes gory examples of it) only thrown in here and there. It’s the intense cases of the latter which should equals parts shock and satisfy any fans of this kind of film. But it was the mystery element that kept me watching and more importantly interested. The first and last section of the film has mystery in abundance and fortunately that makes up for the lacking middle section. Especially towards the beginning, when we are first introduced to this mysterious mist which has descended upon this small town and the group of people we spend our time with, there is a very intense sense of “What the hell is this? What’s going on?” Most of the time there’s this eerie “nothingness” to it all, something I think was very on purpose. This is accomplished by a strange lack of a musical score in the moments where we would usually expect there to be one and, of course, the fact we don’t know what the hell is going on.
The fact that most of the film takes place within a supermarket allows for interesting confrontations between the characters. At first they band together in their fear then they start to pick and choose sides. It’s more realistic, if I can use that term with regards to a film like this, in the way the characters act than I have seen from a film of this type in quite a while. It’s not all clichés with every character representing a typical type of person but instead at least the characters seem half believable in their diversity. However I can say that more than a few times the acting was less than convincing, sometimes even outright bad, which effectively takes back the believability the film managed to muster in the first place. I just hate it when a film works so hard to achieve one thing and then does something else which negates what they just accomplished; this unfortunately happens with The Mist.