Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Mist

I am either getting over or dying from some sort of upper respiratory gunk, so posting has been sporadic. As proof of life, I reprint my original review of The Mist. I have reviewed the black & white version of The Mist here, but this is different. Because, you know, color.

I watch a lot of horror movies (this site provides all the evidence you need), and the basic rule is: Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed. There isn’t another genre where they make so many films and get it right as rarely. Fortunately, you do not have to apply this rule to The Mist, Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella. It completely rocks, and shows signs of being made for the people who appreciate this sort of work.

I first read The Mist in 1984. It was the highlight of Kirby McCauley’s seminal horror anthology Dark Forces (I believe McCauley was King’s agent at the time). I was wowed, and The Mist has come to be seen by King fans as one of the high water marks of his career. It was always a very cinematic story (I remember King saying something in an introduction about it being in some ways an homage to 50s creature features), but while lesser King stories have been filmed, The Mist has languished in development hell for years. Luckily, it waited for Darabont, who previously directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile from King stories. He gets it just right.

It is the story of David Drayton (Thomas Jane), an artist living in Maine with his wife and child. A damaging storm passes through leaving the area without power, and with roofs caved in and windows blown out. Drayton leaves his wife to go into town with his son and a testy neighbor (played by the great Andre Braugher) to get supplies at the local supermarket. At first, they ignore the strange mist (a fog, really) moving in from across the lake, but, while in the store, find the mist is filled with strange and deadly creatures. The rest of the movie is a struggle for the occupants of the supermarket to survive the creatures – and each other.

Darabont was smart enough not to follow the novella word for word. A movie and a written story are very different, and what works in one may not work in another. There are some subtle changes, especially to minor characters, and the ending is completely different.

The ending of the movie has created much controversy. A local reviewer was positively furious because of how it ends. I won’t give it away (you need to see it for yourself), but I will say this: This is an ending to a horror movie designed for horror fans. It is gritty and gut-wrenching and steadfastly refuses to cop out.

If this sort of movie appeals to you at all, you owe it to yourself to see it.

1 comment:

Erik Williams said...

Agree. Loved the ending of the movie. I think it fit the visual form as much as the novella ending fit the written.