When Fear Clouds the Mind - 'The Mist' Review
In a small American town, different citizens gather into a grocery store to look for supplies. A strong storm has forced them to do some shopping.
Something strange is happening in the community. An exaggerated and nervous military and police activity have begun to create uncertainty among the residents. A haunting, thick mist, accompanied by the local tornado siren and unknown tremors, finally triggers the nervousness of these neighbors.
And then comes the horror. Lovecraftian creatures emerge from the fog and start to murder those who are not sheltered.
From its title, The Mist makes clear that this horror film is about the fear of the unknown, of that that cannot be clearly distinguished.
But this being a Frank Darabont's film (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead), of course, the action doesn't focus on the causes and explanations of the horrible supernatural situations, but on its impact on the human relationships.
The Mist is not only that dense layer that does not allow to identify and clearly understand the horror of whatever is outside lurking but the one that covers our mind when our fears are activated.
Darabont makes an allegory of a crumbling society using a group of neighbors locked up in a grocery store as "focus group". There are pragmatic natural leaders, such as David (Thomas Jane), religious natural leaders such as Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), nervous loose canons (Melissa McBride), malleable individuals like Ollie (Toby Jones) and sympathetic allies like Amanda (Laurie Holden).
There are clashes of personalities, temporal antagonisms, power struggles, ego debates, and a lot of paranoia. The Mist could not have shown a single monster, but the dynamics of this group of survivors trying to get logic to the horrendous situation is so engaging, that it wouldn't matter.
That's why the low-budget CGI doesn't harm the atmosphere of despair that, by that time, already have been beautifully built by Darabont and his cast & crew. It also helps the fact that behind the creature design was the great Greg Nicotero and the FX studio that made Guillermo Del Toro's Pan Labyrinth.
What's Your Rating For The Mist?
One of the most shocking things about The Mist is its outcome, in which Darabont decides to go to a darker place than the original novel. This change, by the way, was lauded by Stephen King himself.
That devastating conclusion might be perceived as a cheap emotional blow, but that would be to ignore the main theme of The Mist: Being at the mercy of the fear of the unknown includes the real possibility of a cruel and unjust outcome. Is to acknowledge the possibility that by more courage, effort, and planning that anybody can have, there are things in this universe that simply surpass us and for which we are not and will not be ever be prepared for.
This is Darabont assuming a total commitment to the most basic nucleus of the horror genre and not bowing to the crowd pleaser ending.
And that is well worth seeing.
PS: As a bonus, there is a black and white version that gives The Mist a particular rewatch value. The reason behind that cut: both King and Darabont thought this story could easily be enjoyed as an old:
"grainy black & white Bert I. Gordon monster movie".
Title: The Mist
Release Year: 2007
Director(s): Frank Darabont
Actors: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards