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When it comes to Stephen King adaptations, no one does it better than Frank Darabont. I mean, just look at his track record. "The Shawshank Redemption" was nominated for Best Picture at the 1994 Academy Awards and is currently considered to be the Greatest Motion Picture of All-Time, according to the Internet Movie Database. "The Green Mile" also found a Best Picture nomination and has become an instant classic. "The Mist" marks Darabont's first adaptation of a Stephen King horror story, so some might have been slightly nervous about his ability to travel genres. I have never been one of those people. I have yet to see a Frank Darabont film I didn't love, and that even includes "The Majestic", a film which has been given an unfortunate and undeserved bad wrap. What I received with "The Mist" was one of the most entertaining nights I have spent at the movies all year long. It's one of the most expertly crafted stories of the year and will rest near "1408" as one of the best horror films of the year. "The Mist" does something few horror films try to do these days - it tells an interesting story. It presents you with characters and situations that keep you as interested as it is possible to be, and then it one-ups itself and gives you one hell of a conclusion.
The film centers around a small town that is engulfed by a strange mist that sweeps over everything. A group of citizens board themselves up in the local grocery store after one of them (Jeffrey DeMunn) comes running in, blood soaked, screaming about something being in the mist. Some of the trapped residents include a movie poster artist (Thomas Jane) and his son (Nathan Gamble); an unstable religious zealot (Marcia Gay Harden); an ignorant mechanic (William Sadler); a stock boy with one hell of an aim (Toby Jones); a newcomer to the town (Laurie Holden) and the woman who has befriended her (Frances Sternhagen); and a host of others. Soon, everyone realizes there are strange creatures in the mist, and most of the film deals with the relationships of the men and women in the store, trying to survive those creatures. Eventually, factions begin to form. Thomas Jane's character leads one that is hellbent on finding out how to escape. Marcia Gay Harden leads the other, with many of the citizens believing her to be a prophet and listening to everything she says, even if it means sacrificing some of their own. I won't go into detail on the ending of the film because that would deprive you of the same experience that I had. "The Mist" does tie everything up in a nice little bow. The ending will piss a lot of people off. I thought it was pitch perfect.
What makes Frank Darabont so unique as a storyteller is his ability to take the most amazing and supernatural elements and make them totally believable. He did it in "The Green Mile" and he does it again here. He makes the fantastical elements less important than the human stories. We don't care nearly as much about what is hiding in the mist as we do about what's going on inside the grocery store with these people. Give "The Mist" to someone like Mick Garris and you get a ninety minute blood fest with zero story and a ridiculous pay-off. Give "The Mist" to Frank Darabont and you get one of the best Stephen King adaptations of all-time, period. The camera work here, courtesy of cinematographer Ronn Schmidt, really heightens the mood of the film, with quick zooms and a kind of documentary style that I wasn't expecting. The music by Mark Isham is a throwback to the good old fashioned monster movies. But, it's the direction that makes "The Mist" more than your average horror film. Darabont just knows how to get things from actors, and it helps even more when he's using actors with whom he's worked before, as is the case with many of the actors in this piece. If I had one complaint with the film it was that the CGI-effects were not as strong as they should have been, especially the scene with the tentacles. I wanted more believability with it.
But, casting was the first home run for this film. Thomas Jane is just insane here, acting in ways I've never seen him before. His character essentially runs this film and he handles it all so well, especially the ending. Marcia Gay Harden is also at her crazy best as Mrs. Carmody, especially towards the end of the film when she really lets it roar. Andre Braugher provides fine supporting work as Jane's neighbor who doesn't believe there's anything in the mist, and Jeffrey DeMunn, as always, is outstanding as your typical everyman. Frances Sternhagen is always incredible, and this role is no different. The highlight, however, would have to be Toby Jones as Ollie, hands down the most likable character in the film, who also gets a stand up and shout moment in the film. Darabont just brilliantly cast this film with amazing characters actors who all throw their talents in and churn out one hell of a convincingly acted horror film. The horror genre is not accustomed to drawing in talent of this magnitude, which is a shame, because it absolutely benefits from it.
In short, "The Mist" is one of the finest horror films of the year, and one of the most entertaining films I have seen in 2007. Having also read the book, it's a faithful adaptation, though the ending was modified somewhat by Darabont, to King's approval. What makes "The Mist" so memorable is how it strives not to be ‘just another horror film'. It throws all different sorts of elements into the mix and produces a good film - not just a good horror film. So, if you had your doubts about Frank Darabont - shame on you. I always knew he would deliver and I was not disappointed. After two consecutively disappointing films - "Beowulf" and "No Country for Old Men" - it was nice to finally get my money's worth and see a film that bested my expectations. I don't really know what else to say other than - I suggest that each and every one of you get lost in "The Mist".
- added 11/26/2007, 11:12 PM
Glad to see you loved it, too. I saw it last
Wednesday, and it's definitely one of the best
horror movies I've seen in awhile, if not one of
the best films I've seen this year in general.
When I first saw the trailer, I wasn't too
interested, until I saw it was directed by
Darabont. So, I immediately went out and picked up
the novella and busted through it; I was
completely enthralled. The movie did not
disappoint either. As you said, some of the CGI
wasn't up to snuff (especially the tentacles), but
I can forgive that. The ones being clouded by the
mist were awesome (like the big...scorpion thingy
and the fucking massive one at the end). And HOO
BOY, what an ending. I'd heard that the ending was
changed, but I didn't expect it to be so powerful.
Darabont's got fucking balls, and I love that. I
REALLY need to get out and see this movie again
with a bigger crowd.
- added 11/27/2007, 10:27 PM
This movie was excellent in every way. The ending
surprised the hell out of me, and the acting was
- added 01/04/2008, 08:42 PM
I was really disapointed with this one. I really
didn't think it captured the claustrophobic feel
it should have, and by the time it ended I was
more than ready for it to be over. Add to that how
much I hated the ending. Jane's "emotional
outbursts" were laughable at best. Hell, I'd
prefer Ewes at the end of Saw. I haven't read the
source material in years, so I'm not going to
actively compare the two, but I remember really
enjoying the book. And if memory serves, the
creatures were treated more with "what's out
there" approach, and I think that would have been
much more effective than showing them as
explicitly as they did.
- added 04/08/2008, 11:30 AM
Loved it. Everything I wanted to say has already
been covered here ("the CGI-effects were not as
strong as they should have been" and "Darabont's
got fucking balls"), so I'm just going to leave it
at that. Loved it. 9.5/10.
- added 08/01/2008, 09:43 AM
What a depressing ending. 9/10
- added 08/02/2008, 08:53 AM
It just doesn't let up. It doesn't let you breathe
for one second. I was highly entertained by this
movie. I did not see the ending coming AT ALL and
it was depressing, but it was amazingly shot. A
bad director could have fucked that scene up.
1408 still wins for the fright and
mind-fuck factor though. Looks like King
adaptations are starting to get better.
- added 10/13/2008, 05:56 PM
Aside from a few weak CGI moments, this film was
flawless. The characters were so rich and
believable, and I was sucked in by every minute of
it. Too bad the ending had to be such a
- added 07/22/2009, 09:22 AM
I really enjoyed this adaptation... but did not
buy that tacked-on shock ending for one bit.
For all the desperate survival instinct that the
main character displayed throughout the film, I
simply do not accept that he would be party to
such a defeatist resolution (especially after all
he had been through up to that point already).
Maybe if they were trapped in the car
with the critters literally scratching at the
glass with absolutely NO hope for escape... but
for them to simply pull over and give up like that
in such a brutal way simply doesn't jive with the
rest of the narrative.
A good film
marred by a heavy-handed twist ending that just
seems out of place. Just because it's shocking,
doesn't mean it's appropriate for the story.
Oh... and yes,.. the CGI was hard to look
in places. Why show so much of the critters when
only viewing them partially would have been so
much more frightening?
- added 07/22/2009, 01:12 PM
I completely agree with you on the ending Greg. I
was purely for shock value and I just could not
accept it. I knew what was coming because some of
my friends ruined the ending, but I expected it to
be a completely different situation. Some someone
going out of character just for the type of
ending. Good film though. 8/10 seems about right,
the ending almost kills it.