Creepy, dark and carrying a heavy meaning, The Mist is great alternative horror movie
After producing the immaculate The Shawshank Redemption and the critically acclaimed The Green Mile, director Frank Darabont took on a third adaptation of acclaimed author Stephen King’s work with 2007’s The Mist. The underrated and somewhat forgotten movie brings with it a dark social commentary combined with some great visual horror.
The Mist follows David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a Hollywood poster artist living the small town of Bridgton in Maine. Whilst grocery shopping with his son Bill (Nathan Gamble), the two become trapped in the store along with many other townsfolk when a mysterious mist, supposedly hiding deadly creatures, surrounds the town. Whilst David and a small group attempt to figure out what’s going on, panic sets in amongst the other survivors as people turn on one another as a result of their fear and desperation. As the situation worsens, people begin to flock behind the extreme Mrs Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) who’s prophecies of God’s vengeance lead to bloody conflict within the store.
The film, in terms of both its characters and tone, feels more like a 50’s B-movie. It’s somewhat ridiculous plot is off-putting to people even now, yet it breaks the mould of what to expect from modern-day horror movies. With minimal jump scares and little to no soundtrack, the film relies more on it’s dark themes in order to make itself scary. The grocery store, in which the townsfolk become trapped, acts more as a microcosm of society with the main characters becoming more exaggerated versions of themselves as the film goes on. For example, Mrs Carmody, played excellently by Marcia Gay Harden, becomes an extreme religious cult leader by the end of the film whereas David becomes the more logical and practical leader. The film brilliantly encapsulates the breakdown of society when people are blinded by fear. By the film’s end, the real threat isn’t the monsters in the mist, but the now crazed people inside the grocery store.
In terms of gore, The Mist doesn’t hold back with some of its more violent scenes. Whilst the monster attacks are few and far between for the most part, the scenes in which the creatures from the mist do appear are quite shocking. An incredibly tense scene in a pharmacy for example has some genuinely shocking moments that are far more effective because of the film’s slow build up, making them feel earned. The movie should also be praised for its bold yet devastating ending. Once again shying away from the tropes of modern horrors, the film ends on a very dour note that keeps perfectly in line with the overall tone.
All the performances are great in the movie, with the stereotyped characters being portrayed excellently by the cast. Thomas Jane, William Sadler, Marcia Gay Harden and Toby Jones are all brilliant in their differing roles, with the supporting cast also being very effective throughout. The actors deliver the dialogue in a way that doesn’t come off as cheesy as it might sound on paper and the film is far better off as a result.
One criticism of The Mist would be it’s sub-par CGI that doesn’t hold up for the most part and can be blamed on the film’s relatively low-budget. However, this can be rectified by watching the black and white version of the movie, which was in fact Frank Darabont’s intended cut. This version camouflages the bad effects for the most part and also better suites the film’s B-movie tone.
Overall The Mist is a greatly under appreciated horror. Disturbing, thought-provoking and very well filmed, despite its budget, it’s a horror film that calls back to a different era of movies and is definitely worth the watch for fans of the genre.
The Mist (2007), directed by Frank Darabont, is distributed in the UK by Momentum Pictures. Certificate 15.