Take a Drink: whenever somebody goes out into the mist
Take a Drink: whenever Thomas Jane freaks out
Take a Drink: for small town stereotypes
Take a Drink: for fatalities
Do a Shot: for the sweet Dark Tower reference
Do a Shot of Pure Respect: for that motherfucker of an ending
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Many a filmmaker has taken on the ultra-prolific, ultra-popular work of Stephen King, but the vast majority of the results have been uninspiring to say the least. Maybe it’s just the caliber of filmmaker attracted to his material (Stanley Kubrick excepted, not that he was all that reverent towards the source), or perhaps it’s the difficulty of rendering the flights of imagination and terror King’s simple prose inspires in a reader, but really there’s only one director to consistently succeed at it, Frank Darabont of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption fame.
Don’t get me started on TV…
The Mist was Darabont’s first (and only- so far) pure horror adaptation of King. In a small Maine town (it’s always Maine with King) suffers a massive storm that appears to have damaged something at a nearby secretive military base. A movie poster designer (Thomas Jane) heads into town with his young son and officious neighbor (Andre Braughter) for supplies, but as they shop in the local grocery store a thick mist settles over the town… and there’s something awful lurking in that mist.
Frank Darabont sets the stage for the film beautifully. In just a few strokes he creates relatable main characters, but takes his time throwing them into the frying pan of the main plot, lulling you into a bit of a sense of complacency before shattering it. Throughout the film he manipulates tension beautifully, and there’s certainly never a dull moment.
The cast is also excellent, full of veteran character actors like Jane, Braughter, William Sadler, Marcia Gay Harden, and two familiar faces from another Darabont project, The Walking Dead- Laurie Holden and Melissa McBride. Like The Walking Dead, the real horror lies in the tensions and conflicts arising from the different reactions these common people have to this decidedly uncommon, terrifying situation.
OG (Grocery) Boy Toby Jones would kick some ass on The Walking Dead
On the technical front, Darabont makes great use of what is essentially a single-setting horror setup, and the practical effects are straight naassty. However, the real element of The Mist to raise your glass to, and what elevates it at least a grade, is the ending. It’s simply brilliant, so fucking audacious and dark that once you realized what just happened you almost can’t help but let out a startled chortle, which might devolve into an entire fit of laughter depending on how bad of a person you are.
My wife and I are just the worst.
While the practical effects are good, the CGI, fairly bargain-basement and unpolished in 2007, now mostly looks godawful. The script holds up a bit better, but not much-nearly every character is a type, and the supporting roles aren’t really given enough meat for the actors to sink their teeth into.
Marcia Gay Harden. With a little more nuance her stereotypical off her rocker fundamentalist Christian villain maybe could work, but Harden turns her into a shrieking harpy, which makes it all the more unbelievable that she incorporates the majority of the regular people into her insane child-murdering cult in like… 2 days? 3? In the end, she’s just confusing. Is she a particularly violent schizophrenic, or is this what Darabont thinks a fundamentalist Christian looks like?
“Bitch be crazy!”: Misogynist.
“Christian bitch be crazy!”: Sounds about right.
While in a lot of ways this film resembles a fairly run-of-the-mill Stephen King horror film, one of cinema’s most uncompromising endings make it something truly special.