Director Frank Darabont has been a big fan of fantasy and horror films, he was the key developer for the cult TV series The Walking Dead and wrote a number of episodes. Earlier on in his career, he wrote the screenplays for the fun remake of The Blob (1988) and one of the best of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels Part 3, Dream Warriors. (1987). He then went on to direct three of Stephen King’s stories, The Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile and this film based on a short story, The Mist.
The story is about a movie poster artist (a nice nod to Drew Struzan) who has moved to a small town from the city with his wife and child and trying to make a living. After a big storm, he decides to go into town with a neighbour and his son for some supplies. While in the supermarket an alarm siren is heard and a thick mist descends on the area. One of the local townsfolk comes running in saying that there is something evil in the mist.
The film then shows how people that are trapped and scared start to slowly turn on each other, not helped by a religious zealot who is saying it is all gods doing, punishing the people for their sins. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) seems to be one of the few people left who tries to use logic and common sense to get him and his son out of the situation but as things start to turn ugly, he and his few friends attempt to escape.
The film was a box office failure on release, probably for a number of reasons. First, the director wanted to shoot the film in black and white (the studio refused) as it is clearly a homage to the 1950s monster movies and when you watch it that way it makes a lot of sense, with some of the corny dialogue and monster effects. The film is more about human nature and how relationships collapse when under pressure, rather than just a monster movie. Drayton is constantly dealing with idiots and religious nuts while trying to save the few sane people left. Things get ugly when they murder in cold blood one of the soldiers trapped with them as they blame him and the military for the situation.
This is a horror tale after all and there are a few gruesome scenes, especially when they try and go to the chemist nearby to get medical supplies, the effects in this scene reminded you of classics such as The Thing and Aliens as bodies are transformed and sealed in cocoons. Sure the CGI is dated slightly but it is not that distracting and when viewed in black and white blends a lot better, because of the atmosphere the monochrome image portrays.
The pacing of the film is excellent as is the way the tension is built up as it seems society and order are collapsing around them.
What will divide people is the shock ending. Now I am not going to give away any spoilers here in case no one has seen it, but it is certainly unexpected and gut-wrenching in its execution.
The supporting cast are all good including Toby Jones, William Sadler and Marcia Gay Harden. What does work is that you don’t see the creatures that much, it’s mostly in the shadows or a few jumpy scares which adds to the horror of not knowing what is in the mist?
If you have not seen The Mist I recommend you do, it is a great monster movie but just as much about how humanity can collapse when things go wrong.
The Blu-ray released is an excellent set and includes not just the colour release but the director’s preferred Black and white version. There are also some great other extras including an excellent commentary track with writer/director Frank Darabont and producer Denise Huth, eight deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary with Frank Darabont are included, A Conversation With Stephen King and Writer/Director Frank Darabont, When Darkness Came: The Making of the Mist – This is an in-depth piece that features plenty of interviews with the cast and crew, Taming the Beast: The Making of Scene 35 takes a closer look at the making of the film’s most action-packed and biggest sequence.
You also get Monsters Among Us: A Look at the Creature FX, The Horror of it All: The Visual FX of ‘The Mist’, Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist as well as trailers.
A great film on a great 2 disc package.
FILM – 8 PICTURE – 8 AUDIO – 7.5 EXTRAS – 9