Darabont is an old hand with Stephen King adaptations, having helmed
(to popular acclaim) The Shawshank Redemption and
The Green Mile. However, this time out Darabont has
adapted a different monster with The Mist, a much more violent,
gory, gritty and traditionally sound King story.
The movie begins with a massive storm battering a small town in
Maine. The following day sees the town's weary citizens all converge
at the local store, where they begin to stock up on supplies and
equipment. Among them are David Drayton (Thomas Jane) a local commercial
artist, and his young son Henry (Nathan Gamble). When a mysterious
mist engulfs the town everyone is forced to take refuge within the
store, and when the mists blood thirsty creatures make their presence
known, panic ensues. Stripped of order and devoid of help, fanaticism
rears its ugly head through the guise of religious fundamentalist
Mrs. Carmody (played by a scary as hell Marcia Gay Harden). Soon
the store is split into two halves - the fanatical (who of course
are religious) led by Carmody, and the rational (who of course are
not religious) who are led by Drayton.
During this time, the film quickly becomes a borderline offensive
condemnation of the religious, who are portrayed as gullible and
insane, and joins a long list of recent films (There
Will Be Blood, Hairspray
etc.) which portray Christians as zealots and zealots only. Sure,
such people do exist, and Marcia Gay Harden does provide an exceptional
performance playing Mrs. Carmody, yet there is reality and caricature.
This film unfortunately leans towards the latter, and it suffers
by not having a counter character with religious leanings to battle
the stereotype. Its atheistic/humanist disposition reeks so bad,
that Darabont might as well have brought on Richard Dawkins or Christopher
Hitchens to co-write the film.
As a horror/thriller, The Mist can be terrifically tense
due to the frantic style of Darabont's crew who he borrowed from
hit TV show The Shield. There are several well structured scare
sequences involving a number of big bug and prehistoric creature
creations, which are brought to life through a hybrid of CGI and
stop motion effects. Yet these moments are unfortunately tainted
by several frustrating actions by its characters that are typical
of most horror films, yet irritably distracting within the high
standards placed on this film.
On top of this is a re-written ending which reflects the morose
and sociopathic nature of our times. It is a bleak and pretentious
conclusion which some will no doubt call brave filmmaking, but it
is really a cop out used to shock and bring about cheap acclaim
for going against the grain, and quickly erases any empathy and
sympathy felt for these characters. A highly disappointing effort,
The Mist makes Lawrence Kasdan's 2003 Stephen King adaptation
Dreamcatcher look like a bloody masterpiece, and
that is not a good thing.