21 June 2011

Movies: The Mist

The Mist (2007) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884328/

This is a horror thriller based on a novella by Stephen King.

A powerful storm  rips through a small Maine town.  This drops a tree through David Drayton's living room. The next morning he and his son Billy head in to town to pick up wood and plastic to temporarily cover the hole plus grab some groceries. While at the grocery store a thick mist rolls into town.  Just before it envelops the store a bleeding man runs out of the mist and into the store screaming about things in the mist attacked him.  The dense mist completely covers the store, trapping all the people inside. They can barely see five feet past the front door. The folks trapped in the store begin dealing with fears of the unknown, then known.

The thing about Stephen King movies is that a lot of times the strength of the film rests wholly on who makes the film moreso than the fact that Stephen King wrote the story. Generally regular readers of King novels have an idea what they're in for when they pick up his books, not so with the films.
However - this film is written and directed by Frank Darabont.  He wrote and directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. He's the executive producer/developer of the AMC series The Walking Dead. And has plenty of other noteworthy credits. The guy does good stuff.

The Mist is no exception to Darabont's success. It starts out strong and thrusts you immediately into the situation within the first 15 minutes of the film. The film is paced well, with little breathers before the suspense ratchets back up again.  The plot stays consistent in the context of the world painted for the story. The end of the film tends to shock people.  Interesting trivia: Darabont wrote and filmed an ending different than the original Stephen King story. Stephen King said after seeing it he wished he had thought of that ending.

Yes, King's characters generally are stereotypes with little character development, but most of King's horror stories aren't so much about deep character development (beyond the protagonist) as they are about tapping into the fears the majority of people have in some degree or other.  This film taps into the fear of the unknown in dense fogs, fear of stinging bugs, fear of spiders, fear of tentacles, fear of those crazy fundamentalist-bible-thumping types that whip crowds into bloodthirsty frenzies. And it does it well. Delivered in measured doses of varying visibility.

The cast does well with their characters. Plenty of solid and recognizable B and C listers plus Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden and Laurie Holden. A shout-out to the little actor Nathan Gamble who played Billy Drayton. That kid was very convincing in being scared and crying when the scene called for it.

The film is entertaining, can be scary at times (I guess, I have to rely on the wife's reactions to tell me), and is even worthy of multiple viewings. I think this was the fourth time I've watched the film. The first two viewings were the same week we bought the DVD.

I'd recommend seeing it if you haven't seen it yet and are a casual  thriller / horror flick viewer.

I'm not sure how well this film works for the hardcore horror flick crowd.

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