Wednesday, 23 September 2020
The Mist
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 27 November 2007 00:00
He’s been given many names such as “The King of Horror” or “Master of the Macabre”, but whether you call him hero or hack there’s no arguing that Stephen King is at the top of his field. Personally I think he’s a brilliant writer although most literary critics would like to burn my eyeballs out for saying it. Think about it; the guy writes dozens of novels – he keeps churning them out – and some hit and some miss. But most of them hit, and hit hard. In my opinion no one writes believable characters like King. Sure they get into some pretty unbelievable situations, but for the most part they are well-rounded, everyday folk like you or me. And that is precisely what makes a Stephen King story scary.

The movies based on his novels, however, can be a different story altogether (and I mean that literally). Oftentimes the movie butchers the narrative so badly we end up with a mangled piece of meat. But sometimes the result is a perfect melding of novel to film. In The Mist director Frank Darabont manages to give a great adaptation. His previous work on flawless Stephen King films such as The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile make him uniquely qualified to do the job.

The Mist puts us in familiar King territory, small town USA, where a group of residents lock themselves into a mom-and-pop grocery store in order to escape the horror that waits outside. A mist has rolled into town from the mountains and terrible things have come with it. Among the group of people is Thomas, an illustrator (of you know who’s books) who came into town with his son to pick up some supplies. As in most small towns familiarity breeds contempt, so grudges and personal battles are being played out inside while the foreign threat lurks outside. This movie actually has a lot to say about how we humans treat one another.

Thomas joins with a small (and growing smaller) group that bands together trying to maintain sanity, find out where the mist came from and how to escape. A religious fanatic, played with perfect conviction by Marcia Gay Harden, heads up the rest of the survivors. Her fervent sermons about the “End Times” and a “vengeful God” begin to convert the desperate townsfolk to her flock. As a former outcast among the citizens, she relishes this attention to her words and is willing to go to any lengths to prove she is a prophet of God.

Whether the true monsters are inside the store or out is a matter of opinion. Personally, I’d rather take my chances with the gigantic freakish insects than stick it out with the Old Testament crazies, but that’s just me. They’re both pretty scary! In fact, the creatures in The Mist are very creepy indeed. I was skeptical at first when giant tentacles started waving around looking very CG. But special effects were all uphill from there, featuring giant flying insects, bird-like creatures and huge monstrosities that brought to mind the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. Thankfully these largest creatures remain obscured by the mist, so they retain an eerie quality.

Along with the psychological scares there is also plenty of action to keep you glued to the edge of your seat. The audience jumped more than once during intense scenes and there was actual cheering and clapping going on at times – a reaction not often found in movie theatres these days.

The Mist is a great success that should keep audiences entertained throughout. Although it’s no award winner, it is a fun popcorn flick and well worth checking out. Only one word of caution – I absolutely hated the ending.

I give The Mist 7 out of 10 stars.