The Mist (2007)
Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
Plot: A freak storm unleashes a species of blood-thirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole-up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi / Drama
Rating: NC16 for violence, terror and gore, and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
Do not mistake The Mist to be a horror movie. Frank Darabont's third Stephen King adaptation after The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and The Green Mile (1999), is unlike his previous two efforts.
What seems like Darabont's first foray into horror filmmaking is only an illusion. There is more to The Mist than ugly bugs attacking humans, or giant creatures with slimy tentacles chomping people in half. Under the veil of terror lies a complex social commentary that explores the ills of politics, religion, and humanity.
Darabont has always been consistent. Equally adept as a screenwriter as well as behind the camera, his pictures often leave an aftertaste that is inspiring. The Mist, however, leaves us in a depressing mood, with a conclusion that is the most bitter irony imaginable.
Darabont makes us sit through two hours of terror, anger, frustration, and sadness in what is the movie equivalent of a roller coaster ride in emotional manipulation. And yes, we all love being manipulated in the hands of Darabont. He's still one of the most talented screenwriters out there.
The Mist has its fair share of gore and monster violence that will appease fans of the horror genre. But the key factor of the film's success lies in the excellently-written characters. They are people whom we can identify with - a religious fanatic, a prejudiced black man, a family man, an innocent soldier etc. The colourful character interplay forms the essence of the film, elevating it from being a B-grade horror flick to an intense, emotionally-challenging terror drama.
The CGI effects are adequate without being flashy. Though it's interesting to note that the monsters appear more frightening when hidden in the mist than being out in their comfort zone (close-up shots of them look digitalized and slightly unconvincing).
Darabont loves pitting characters against each other in an enclosed area – police prisons in The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The Mist features a supermarket, a more urbanized identity, which is consequently more terrifying. 2007 has seen many appalling horror pictures – Captivity, Saw IV, Alone, 1408 etc. The Mist clearly and confidently tops them all.
GRADE: A (9/10 or 4.5 stars)
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