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The Mist

2008-06-02 08:34
What it's about:

David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is an artist living on the outskirts of a small town with his wife and son. After a bad storm he drives into town with his son and neighbour to get supplies. While he's in the supermarket, a thick fast moving mist rolls over the town and a bloody figure bursts into the shop shouting warnings of monsters. Soon those trapped in the store are forced to defend themselves against an unknown threat while succumbing to cabin fever and infighting.

What we thought of it:

After the success (and quality) of 1408, Stephen King fans are in for another treat with The Mist, an adaptation of the King short story. Directed by King aficionado Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption [1994], The Green Mile [1999]), The Mist benefits immensely from his handling of character development and human interaction, making it far more compelling than a story that stole its entire premise from The Fog (2005) has any right to be.

Thomas Jane does an admirable job as the everyman-turned-hero trying to deal with the unknown while also keeping his son safe. His slide into desperation is believable but overshadowed by Marcia Gay Harden's Mrs. Carmody, a religious zealot who is convinced that Armageddon has started. Harden creates a mix of fire, brimstone and paranoia, reveling in her ability to sway people in a crisis despite the divisions it causes, giving yet another standout performance.

It's this core of pure drama that gives The Mist its strength – were it just another parade of CG monsters, things leaping out of dark doorways and rivers of blood, you might as well be watching a lame remake of The Fog, The Amityville Horror (1979 & 2005), or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 & 2003). Horror without real characters needs to be clever, but 99% of horror movies couldn't locate Africa on a world map. Like King's best stories, The Mist is about ordinary people you probably know, confronted by the supernatural. It also hides enough in the mist itself so that it never blows the atmosphere of dread with too many huge CG set pieces, preferring to keep everything cloyingly close.

It's refreshing to watch a horror that doesn't suck, and it's even better to watch a horror that's a decent movie. With nods to HP Lovecraft and HG Wells, The Mist is unashamedly old school, but it's done with such aplomb that it seems far fresher than the latest J-horror rip offs about haunted cell phones or cameras. A must for all King fans and horror/sci-fi lovers, this is the most enjoyable film of its kind since Cloverfield (2008), and one of the best horror movies of the year.

- Ivan Sadler

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