Hitting theaters this Friday is Dimension Films’ The Mist, which is becoming one of the best reviewed horror films of 2007 and is looking like it will be making the top 10 of 2007 list here on Bloody-Disgusting. Today B-D writer David Harley sent in his review for the film, giving it a whopping 4.5 out of 5 skulls. Read on for the review or click the title above for more info on Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the popular Stephen King story.
Few King stories affected me like The Mist. I remember the first time I read it like yesterday, sitting up in my bed late one night. Being so engrossed in the story, I tore through it in about an hour and a half and immediately proclaimed it as my favorite King story ever. Needless to say, I hold this very high on my list of favorite modern literature.
Darabont’s film, keeping true to the original novella, concerns a group of townspeople trapped in a supermarket by an other-worldly mist, inhabited with Lovecraftian creatures no less. It’s a story of hope, the condition of the human race and how both of those work together in making a life-and-death scenario even more harrowing.
Since Darabont has been trying to get this film off of the ground for years (he originally considered it for his first film but ultimately went with Shawshank), it’s no surprise that what I found being laid out before me was a true labor of love. What particular struck me as unique was the choice to leave out any sort of score throughout the majority of the film. While some may argue that some scenes feel stripped of further emotional heft, I feel that it actually gives the scenes more impact by letting the character driven script conjure up emotion by itself. The cinematography, much like the silence of the score, furthers the atmosphere of the film to where the tension essentially oozes off of the screen. Brought to us by the same team behind FX Channel’s The Shield, the camera gives the film a real gritty and life-like feel, constantly searching the supermarket for safety and hope, much like the characters.
The acting is excellent across the board, always keeping the story riveting. Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Mrs. Carmody, the local religious zealot, gives it her all in the standout performance of the film. While always giving very intense performances in her work, she occasionally oversteps the boundary of campiness by coming on as very over the top. However, since it’s absolutely essential that the character come off like that for the situational ‘Lord of the Flies’ aspect of the film, it’s really a brilliant bit of casting. Thomas Jane, as David Drayton, our poster painting hero, really stands out as well, bringing the right amount of tenacity and fearlessness to the role. Andre Braugher, most noted for his turn as Detective Pembleton on Homicide, brings the right amount of ferocity and pessimism to the table as Brent Norton, the know-it-all lawyer from New York.
While most people would be quick to jump on the bandwagon like so many others and proclaim that it’s similar to The Fog because of percipitous weather conditions, I would be more inclined to say it resembles The Thing, in that there is no break in the tension. In the Fog, we have daylight, in which our heroes can find answers and safety. In The Thing and The Mist, there is no safe ground, every second counts and the terror never takes a break.
The physical effects, courtesy of KNB, showcase the incredible imagination of the crew. Bringing the gore and grue that I only pictured in my head for years to the big screen was a delight. The visual effects done by CafeFx, the same team behind Pan’s Labyrinth, were a bit iffy. Tentacle violence holds a special place in my heart, surely like everyone else, but they look very CG, almost to the point where I couldn’t buy that they were actually occupying the same space as the characters. With the bar set as high as it was by the other aspects of the film, I expected more care to be taken with it.
While there are other minor problems with the film, such as a small bit of downtime in the middle act, most people seem to have the biggest one with the ending. There is no doubt in my mind that it will either make or break the film for you. Going beyond the ending in the novella, Darabont doesn’t leave it up in the ‘air’ so to speak but goes somewhere even the darkest part of my mind wouldn’t dream of. And that is something that really makes the film stand out and bring itself full circle. I’m glad, thankful even, that he chose to bring me there and go beyond what would be considered a normal ‘Hollywood’ ending. King himself praises the new ending, saying “It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead.”
Easily the most ‘mist-ifying’ horror film of 2007 and one of the best of the decade, the character driven story and relatable themes will no doubt make it a classic to be talked about for years. The Mist is the real deal.