The Mist, 2007.
Directed by Frank Darabont
Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, and Jeffrey DeMunn.
Following a vicious storm, a small town is enveloped in a mysterious mist leaving a band of survivors to seek refuge in a supermarket. Trapped in the market by monstrous creatures lurking in the mist, the group also has to contend with the growing distrust and delirium of each other that soon proves to be a bigger threat than the monsters outside.
Frank Darabont is arguably the best director when it comes to bringing the work of Stephen King to the big screen, giving us the excellent weepie that is The Green Mile and arguably one of the greatest films ever made in the form of The Shawshank Redemption.
However, Darabont wouldn’t merely confine himself to bringing King’s non-horror works to the screen, using his incredible talents on The Mist, quite possibly one of the greatest of all King adaptations.
The film is gifted by a talented ensemble cast featuring *deep breath* Thomas Jane, Toby Jones, Jeffrey DeMunn, Andre Braugher, Laurie Holden, and Marcia Gay Harden to name the main players.
All deliver fantastic performances, particularly Jane who has never been better in my view, as David Drayton a quintessential “everyman” hero inadvertently thrust into leadership by extraordinary circumstances.
Jane is an affable screen presence whose natural warmth and charisma ensure that the viewer is always on his side, even as those around him begin to turn against him. His scenes with his on-screen son (the excellent Nathan Gamble) offer many of his finest moments, with his likeable personality shining through every frame.
The film might feature supernatural monsters attacking our survivors from the mist, but it’s Marcia Gay Harden’s Mrs. Carmody who emerges as the real villain of the film, a religious fanatic whose deluded ramblings about the “end times” have finally been given credence by the arrival of the mist.
The conviction and sincerity with which Harden portrays the character is simply terrifying, with her every fiery proclamation being one to make that makes the blood run cold. You really believe she means it when she says that a “blood sacrifice” must be made to quell “God’s wrath”.
The Walking Dead fans will have fun spotting several actors that would join Darabont when he created the TV show in 2010. Keep an eye out for Melissa McBride (the only one still on the show as of 2017) who makes a memorable small appearance as a tearful mother who just wants to get back to her kids.
While the monsters are indeed a source of terror for parts of the film, the real horror of The Mist lies in the claustrophobic and paranoid atmosphere of the supermarket that acts as the sole location for much of the runtime. In times of crisis, the film tells us, it’s not the monsters outside that we should fear, but it’s the monsters among us that should keep us awake at night.
This theme is perhaps most eloquently expressed in a brilliantly written and acted conversation between David and his group about humanity’s capacity to devolve into barbarism when society breaks down.
The line that hammers this home comes from Ollie (the always brilliant Toby Jones) who bluntly surmises of humanity “As a species, we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?”.
The film also possesses quite possibly one of the greatest endings in horror cinema history. Whereas King’s original novella ends on an upbeat and optimistic note, the film does not. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter. Go and watch this film.
With a brilliant cast, script, and direction, terrifying themes of humanity’s capacity to turn against itself and one of the greatest horror endings ever committed to film, The Mist might not be the most famous of Stephen King adaptations but it’s certainly one of the best. Get it watched now.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★