Runtime: 2 hr 5 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Frances Sternhagen, Nathan Gamble
"The Mist" - Best Monster Movie in a Long Time.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 8 years ago
Stephen King's filmography is littered with more trashy fright flicks than Horrorfest, but every once in a while Hollywood successfully captures the writer's dark and distinctly American vision. The Mist is that kind of adaptation - the best, most richly imagined Stephen King movie since 1995's Dolores Claiborne.
As written and directed by Frank Darabont, The Mist hews closely to King's original novella, which first appeared in 1980 as part of a collection of short stories entitled Dark Forces. If anything, the story's resonance and power have grown in the 29 years since it was published.
On the morning after a freak lightening storm, the residents of a small town in Maine converge on a supermarket to collect supplies. Soon the town is enshrouded in an unexplained mist, all the better to hide the strange creatures stirring out there beyond the parking lot. (All of this is featured in the film's relatively discreet theatrical trailer.) Trapped inside the market, the locals break off into warring factions as the possibility that the world is ending rends open society's fissures.
Darabont received three Oscar nominations in the 1990s for turning King's Rita Haworth and Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile into prestige pictures, but he got his start in B-grade horror flicks like The Fly II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. The Mist marks something of a throwback for the filmmaker. The movie has its share of corny dialogue, and the first attack on the market by a tentacled beast isn't entirely convincing in the effects department. But Darabont takes the genre more seriously than his peers, and the result is a science-fiction horror movie that feels as relevant to the America of today as Invasion of the Body Snatchers must have back in 1956. If Body Snatchers satirized suburban conformity, The Mist is about the new culture of fear.
The actor who aids Darabont most spectacularly in his vision is Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Mrs. Carmody, a devout Christian who sees God's vengeance in the bloodthirsty monsters that come flying out of the mist. Marshalling the townspeople with fire-and-brimstone sermons, shivering at the signs of the divine, Mrs. Carmody is the movie's prim face of religious extremism - Mrs. Brady meets Osama Bin Laden. The character actors Andre Braugher and Toby Jones also contribute memorable performances, and Thomas Jane shines in his best leading-man role to date.
You may have heard that The Mist is a downer. That's not the half of it: Darabont stages the most devastating denouement in recent cinematic history. But that shouldn't deter you from seeing this movie. It turns out that the experience of watching man destroy himself provides its own kind of electric thrill.