Fear Really Does Change Everything: 'The Mist' Retrospective
Remember, It's Not Fog, It's Mist
So around Thanksgiving 2007, I remember watching television and seeing a trailer for a very interesting-looking movie based off a story by Stephen King. I loved the concept so I read its synopsis online. The film caught my attention, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see it in theaters. Later on I was able to see it, the science fiction horror film The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont.
The plot of The Mist follows David Drayton (Thomas Jane), who goes to the local supermarket with his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) to pick up supplies to fix their home following a bad thunderstorm. While there, they meet a few of the people in town, and some from out of town. Suddenly, a fog-like mist quickly envelopes the supermarket and blocks all visibility outside. It becomes clear that there are unearthly beings hiding outside that are thirsty for blood. David must band together with people in the store to not only protect his son, but to also survive this strange phenomenon. However, the threats are not only come from what’s outside. Local religious woman Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) believes that the mist is a sign from god that the world is coming to an end. Slowly, she begins gathering followers and develops a congregation who sacrifices people to the entities in the mist.
The cast is an all-star one. Thomas Jane portrays the main protagonist David Drayton. While he shows high emotion at times, he stays headstrong and thinks things out. He becomes the leader of the store’s rational group and the one they turn to when they need answers. Throughout the film he attempts to keep the peace between his group and the ever-growing congregation. He's also the first to jump at the chance to help others.
Laurie Holden plays Amanda Dumfries, a new school teacher who somewhat serves as a surrogate mother for David's son, Billy. Billy himself is played by Nathan Gamble. His performance makes you want him to make it out of the store alright. Toby Jones portrays Ollie Weeks, a manager of the store and a friend of David’s who’s also a good marksman.
Andre Braugher plays Brent Norton, David's neighbor and minor antagonist. He's a bit too rational during the store crisis and deduces that whatever's happening may be unnatural but it isn't supernatural or biblical. He's also one of the few people to first ventures outside in the mist. Jeffrey DeMunn plays Dan Miller, an elderly man who runs into the store when the mist arrives and is the one who tells everyone that something's in it. He ends up joining David's group along with school teacher Irene Reppler, played by Frances Sternhagen.
Other minor characters that have interesting parts are William Sadler as Jim Grondin, a local mechanic who's also a minor antagonist, his friendlier partner Myron LaFleur played by David Jensen. Sam Witwer plays Private Wayne Jessup who later reveals a possible explanation as to what the mist is and where’d it came from.
Marcia Gay Harden portrays Mrs. Carmody. Though the film’s main strife is the mist, Carmody serves as the main antagonist in the film. She's one of those people who goes from no one to nightmare. When the mist first appears she says several times that the mist is a sign from god that the world is ending soon. She begins quoting bible verses which annoys most of the people in the store. As more and more bad things happen and seeing that some of the things she spoke of are coming true, more and more people in the store gravitates to her side. She comes up with the idea that sacrificing people to the mist will help keep them safe. Eventually there's a final conformation between David's group and Mrs. Carmody's followers.
The movie for the most part is a monster movie. However the main theme of the film is what will people do to survive. Throughout the film you see several rational thinking people who quickly go insane after experiencing the events. If someone thought one way they later change their minds and thinking towards another way. For example, many people immediately dislike Mrs. Carmody near the beginning, but once the events play out they quickly join her ranks and pray alongside of her.
One of the best scenes in the film involved David’s group in a storage room. David, Ollie, Amanda, Dan, and others all stand around talking about the evils of man and how quickly their morals change when faced with unpassable obstacles. You don’t just hear them talk about it, but you see it in the store; as I mentioned rational people start to turn to Mrs. Carmody when problems come up that they can’t fix.
Because of the isolated nature of the film there isn’t a lot of music. You only hear music a few times. The first being about halfway during a night scene. The second being near the end, there’s a scene that shows how the world outside the store was affected by the mist and you hear the song ‘Host of Seraphim’ by the group Dead can Dance.
The Mist is definitely one of the best science fiction horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. Personally I’m a fan of monster movies, but this one centers on what’s going on around the monsters. As I mentioned earlier, the main focus of the film is what will people do to survive when pushed to the limits. This film shows that when people are cornered they’ll turn to whoever or whatever has a solution. It shows that people are rational beings as long as the lights work and if they can call 911, take it away and they completely loose it. It’s a highly acclaimed film in its own right, but one thing that will bring attention is its unforgettable ending. After seeing the film, Stephen King himself said that he wish he thought of the ending for the book. But all together with its different elements, The Mist is one movie that can’t be missed.
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