Sunday, November 16, 2008

Horror Movie Review: The Mist

A tentacle monster says Give Me Five!The Mist

Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, and Dan Miller

Directed by: Frank Darabont

Written by: Stephen King (story) and Frank Darabont (screenplay)

Production Companies: Darkwoods Productions and Dimension Films

Release Date: November 21, 2007

Awards: The Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden

Let's face it. Taking a Stephen King story and translating it to the big screen is a difficult taskThomas Jane as David Drayton saying I think we need a bigger flyswatter... and one which, often times, fails to end well. They are always entertaining in some respect but for every The Shining and The Green Mile, there's a Graveyard Shift or Sleepwalkers. But when one comes out, I have to watch it and with as much trepidation as when I sit down with one of his books...but with an inverse reasoning. With his books, I open nervous about what he might pull out to scare me and with movies based on his work, it's fear that I won't be scared at all...

lolmonster asks can i has hooman nomzWhich brings us to The Mist. A novella I haven't read with monsters. I like the sound of it...but can director Frank Darabont translate a Stephen King story to the big screen? Ok, a King novel with monsters...He did a great job with the more down-to-earth Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

The story features a small town that has a military base nearby in the mountains. A large storm rolls through leading the town folk to get supplies and materials to repair damage. As friends, neighbors, and...not really friends, discuss how they weathered the storm. Then in rolls a thick mist. Running frantic into a grocery store is Dan Miller screaming, "Don't go out there! There's something in the mist!" Dirty Ollie saves the day.

Now trapped in the grocery store, the debates begin: What to do? What the mist means? What's in the mist? As store employee Ollie says, "As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up ways to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?"

Sorry, could someone tell me what expiation means? Srsly...While Brent Norman and his sceptics venture into the mist, Mrs. Carmody begins preaching the word of God and about the end of days, and David Drayton just wants to stay alive, the monsters are trying to get in. Giant insects, tentacles from something unknown, strange, featherless bird-like creatures, and giant spiders. But are those the most dangerous creatures in the mist? Or are fear-stricken, uncertain, panicked survivors the true monsters. David Drayton sums it up after Amanda claims, "My God, David, we're a civilized society," he responds, "Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them - no more rules."
We will, we will stone you....stone you...
The Mist was a gripping, tense film that focused more on the monsters in humanity than the extra-dimensional monsters that terrorized the characters that would make it one of the best King films...except for the end.

Darabont agreed to direct the film only if Dimension agreed to not change the scripted ending. My only real complant is the scripted ending. I'm not going to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet, but it's an ending I find not the least bit thought provoking or to be one that adds to the film. I find it to be an ending designed for shock value and in its shock, it takes away from the film. Stephen King says that he wishes he'd thought of the ending. I say that, since the rest of the film, while frustrating in its depiction of humanity, is an excellent horror film, I will stop the film early at an earlier point where I can determine the outcome of the movie, much like King's ambiguous ending, rather than Darabont's gimmicky ending.

Thomas Jane played the lead role of David Drayton. Jane has not proven himself a versatile actor, but cast as the stoic, intense Drayton, Jane does a good job. This isn't Jane's first film based on Stephen King's work, having starred in Dreamcatcher. Friends on a camping trip discover thClever comeback the town they're vacationing in is being plagued in an unusual fashion by parasitic aliens from outer space. He was recently seen in The Mutant Chronicles in which he plays 23rd century soldier Major Mitch Hunter who leads a fight against an army of underworld NecroMutants. Jane's next film will be the January 23, 2009 release, Killshot. Beautiful Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband Wayne are placed in the Federal Witness Protection program after witnessing an "incident". Thinking they are at last safe, they are targeted by an experienced hit man and a psychopathic young upstart killer. The ensuing struggle will test Carmen to the limit.

Marcia Gay Harden won an award for her portrayal of the maniacal zealot Mrs. Carmody, and she certainly deserves the award. Harden also starred in the 2007 supernatural mystery The Invisible. After an attack leaves him in limbo -- invisible to the living and also near death -- a teenager discovers the only person who might be able help him is his attacker. Harden can currently be seen in the limited release comedy The Maiden Heist centered on three museum security guards who devise a plan to steal back the artworks to which they have become attached after they are transferred to another museum, also starring Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, and William H. Macy.

Amanda Dumfries was played effectively by Laurie Holden. Holden also found herself cut off and plagued by strange creatures in Silent Hill. She plays Cybil Bennett, a police woman who helps Rose find her daughter in the haunted town.

Andre Braugher played the short lived role of Brent Norton. He played the slightly paranoid sceptic well, and had a strong screen presence while his character was present. Braugher can be seen in the limited release of Passengers about a grief counselor working with a group of plane-crash survivors who finds herself at the root of a mystery when her clients begin to disappear. Braugher also starred in the 2004 TV adaptation of 'Salem's Lot.

Superb actor William Sadler portrayed the wavering Jim in The Mist, his third Stephen King film, his other two being The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. He next appears in what seems to be a B-Movie, Nothing Sacred as the father of two twins who seek to kill him before he attains immortality. He will also appear in Silent But Deadly about Thomas Capper, an unconventional and mysterious serial killer who takes aim at a Hollywood film set, by unleashing his own brand of retribution on the cast and crew. He will also star in The Hills Run Red about a group trying to discover the mysteries behind an old film titles "The Hills Run Red" and run afowl of an axe murderer.

Ollie was excellently played by Toby Jones, awarded the Britsh Actor of the Year in 2006 by the London Critics Circle. Arguably the most likeable character in the film, hopefully we'll see more of Jones. Jones also plays Karl Rove in W. He will next play Thomas Huxley in Creation, a dramatic biography about Charles Darwin and his religious wife Emma.

Director-screewriter-producer Frank Darabont has been involved in many horror films including writing screenplays for Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors, the 1988 version of the The Blob, The Fly II, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It has been announced that he is working on a screenplay adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. He's producing a Zack Snyder directed adaptation of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. He has no directing jobs set up at this time.

The next Stephen King adaptation to film will be Dolan's Cadillac about a young man attempting to avenge his wife's death after she is murdered by a Las Vegas mobster starring Christian Slater. Other King works in various stages of production include a new Creepshow, and adaptations of Cell, From a Buik 8, and Bag of Bones.



kelloggs said...

Interesting fact you might not have heard: Stephen King actually hated the way the director portrayed The Shinning, and that's why he made that mini-series a few years.

Ok back to the review, I completely agree. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie until the first CG tentacle scene. Even after that I liked it more than hated it, until the end. I didn't know whether to laugh or throw something at my tv.

Good review. Looking forward to Dead Silence.

Bodog said...

Considering how much they cut from the story for Nicholson's movie, I can see why he hated it, though when considered independent of the book, it's a good film.

But yeah, the tentacle was poorly done, but everything else was pretty good. Until the end...