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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 39.76%
Average: 4.82%
Pretty Bad: 2.41%
Total Crap: 6.02%

4 reviews, 59 user ratings

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Mist, The
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by Erik Childress

"The Incredibly Shrinking Population Of Decent Humanity"
5 stars

Inevitably the question will come up, usually around the weeks of Halloween, of what I think are the best horror movies. Since this is a question that is fairly easy to answer given that the best of the horror genre comes along once in a great blue full moon, my responses are usually fairly pedestrian when put on the spot. Titles like The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing and the first Nightmare on Elm Street come out and I’m normally met with looks of “thanks, I knew about those.” Most horror fans are so eager to find something new that the slightest hint of change will have them running up the flagpole they just planted to shout its praises. One does not need to look at the greatest horror film titles to appreciate how magnificent they really are. I tend to believe in this genre’s case you only need to look at how many bad ones actually get released. I won’t even go back a decade or a few years as I can just make a list from 2007 to emphasize my point. (The Hitcher, Primeval, Blood and Chocolate, The Messengers, Dead Silence, The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Reaping, Hostel: Part II, Captivity, Halloween, P2). You can keep The Host horror fans. Frank Darabont’s The Mist is easily the best horror film since The Blair Witch Project and the most socially frightening statement about humanity in the post 9/11 era.

David Drayton (Thomas Jane) has a mess to clean up after the night of a big storm. Trees have trashed portions of his Maine property including a boathouse that even has his son going “wow!” Trying to simmer some past tension between him and neighbor, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), they settle their dividing lines like men and take a ride into town with David’s son, Billy (Nathan Gamble) while mom waits at home. The supermarket is fairly jammed with folks gathering supplies while phone service is currently a goner. An influx of military trucks can be seen on the road. That’s when a bloodied townsman (Jeffrey DeMunn) comes-a-screaming “there’s something in the mist!” And as the blinding cloud, first spotted at the outskirts of David’s home, comes trolling in the patrons lock up shop and await for the mysterious fog to settle.

While heeding the words of warning from one of their neighbors, everyone gathers in their own little groups, some for comfort and others a way out. With a stockroom generator blocked from the outside, Jim Grondin (William Sadler) knows the solution but involves sending an eager stockboy who volunteers to fix the problem while David and elder bagboy, Ollie (Toby Jones) watch on. That’s when they get their first look at what lies within the mist and escape falls to the bottom of the resort pile. Despite evidence of the encounter, there are disbelievers but, more eerily, actual believers. Just one actually in the form of Mrs. Carmody (an exceptional Marcia Gay Harden), a fire-and-brimstone Christian who believes they are witnessing the end of days and has her quotable bible just handy in hopes to convince the lot that the only way to avoid their doom is to embrace it.

What follows is the classic horror scenario of a trapped gathering of various personalities bent on clashing in plotting their next move. While normally kept to around a baker’s dozen of major faces, The Mist makes use of the “it takes a village” mantra to ante up the potential body count of a disaster flick. Along with the already mentioned regulars, there’s also: Amanda Dunfries (Laurie Holden), a married schoolteacher; Irene (Frances Sternhagen), the practical old-timer; stockgirl Sally (Alexa Davelos), the serviceman (Sam Witwer) with a longstanding crush on her (who shares the surname of a militaryman made famous by Jack Nicholson), his fellow on-leave buds and various brothers and friends all doing their part to fend off the invasion with one gun, torches and a seemingly limitless supply of pet food.

Darabont’s adaptation pulls off a rather unique display of balancing it’s attack sequences with the far more terrifying implications of human nature. It’s fair share of set pieces are carefully initiated through necessity rather than the stupidity of horror characters doing horror things to deliver scares on cue. When people don’t believe in what’s out there early on, we’re being setup not for the standard offering of “I told you so” bloodletting but the onset of the limitations on faith and how those on the supposed right side of it are empowered. The steady progression of Mrs. Carmody from nutcase to rallier is key to the molding of the film’s suspense and the unfathomable irony that it may be more dangerous inside what becomes God’s house than to brave the terror that the world has in store outside head-on.

The Mist is full of these little ironies and like the best dissections of religious and political paradoxes, it flummoxes the viewer into reevaluating what you’ve just witnessed from both sides. Forgoing the lessons learned in Jaws into teasing us with the monster (thus making the unknown of the imagination far more frightening), Darabont gives us a glance early on. Only at parts, mind you, but still large enough to dilute the eeriness that may initially disappoint the horror fans who appreciate terror of the mind to just another CGI effect. But it’s a necessary evil to place the audience on the obvious side of those in the know. Our own eyes don’t lie. And the reluctance to face that belief is understandable on the larger scale apart from the anonymosity that exists between David and his neighbor. So how do we face our own reluctance to buy into Mrs. Carmody’s beliefs? Because she behaves like a lunatic, brandishing fear through the bloodpoint pen of her God we see her as dangerous and clearly Darabont does too. But does her faith make her wrong or just delusional? Does a creature stave off its attack on her because she’s God’s vessel or simply because she stays put like we would a snake or a bee? Does the same creature leave our hero alone after he manages to grab a gun or because its acting out a grander design to make us destroy ourselves?

Stephen King’s novella was a great starting point for many of the issues back in 1980 when it was originally published. Now, he looks more visionary than ever and that’s in large part to the strategic maneuvering of Darabont’s screenplay. Unlike the preachiness of a Lions for Lambs or the uneven melding of wacky comedy and environmental tampering in The Host, Darabont has masterfully found the elements of both a creature feature and hot button themes to craft a parable of enormous power from its expert setup to its devastatingly radical conclusion. The repeated elements of King’s storied history certainly make their cameos and Darabont is respectful enough of the source material to not just flesh it out but get under the flesh of organized cliques bent on controlling the people in order to control their own little world. Man’s tampering with the flow of nature is more than just a speck from the scientifical universe hinted at here. Natural selection is also not to be set upon decisions made in the name of God. The resolve of our will should be free enough to make mistakes beset on impatience and salvation – as long as its our will and not the will of others. Who may be right after all. What a world, huh? And what a movie The Mist makes of it.

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originally posted: 11/21/07 16:00:00
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell cool creatures but the downer ending is cheap & harsh they could have ended it differt th 3 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales A good story well told. Unflashy direction. Atmosphere. Ending great - true horror. 5 stars
12/09/13 Martin Spotty throughout, but has horror, fun, depth. take the ending u mainstream pansies 4 stars
8/10/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Good movie, great ironic ending for a Hollywood film. 5 stars
5/09/10 reptilesni Biggest "fuck you very much for watching" ending in a movie ever. 1 stars
3/25/10 mr.mike Most downer ending I've seen in 30 years. Studio had elephant balls! 4 stars
1/11/10 Frenzy To silly 2 stars
10/19/09 auzzie chickie worth watching. the ending was the real attention grabber! 4 stars
7/14/09 cody a freaky movie with some scares, good story , but bad ending in my opinion. 3 stars
5/11/09 Ricky the lesson is not to loose hope... the movie is great and truly underated 5 stars
3/22/09 MP Bartley Make sure you watch the b&w version. Superbly delivers bleak thrills. 4 stars
3/16/09 Sean One of the best movies of 2007. Terrific acting, nicely paced, and an interesting ending. 5 stars
11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
8/30/08 TreeTiger Great movie... 5 stars
8/09/08 GC One of the best horror/monster movies ever, awesome ending 5 stars
8/08/08 ben dover amazing truly devastating and disturbing ending 5 stars
7/21/08 Ken Great film. Good Ending. People who don't like it probably retarded 5 stars
6/15/08 Don Better than I expected 4 stars
6/01/08 Ron Decent Stephen King movie. NOBODY would have predicted the ending 4 stars
5/30/08 Danny One of the best horror flicks I've seen in a while. 4 stars
5/11/08 James Everyone one in this movie was stupid, from the main good guy to the stupid idiot. 1 stars
5/10/08 Siggie Loved the novella, really enjoyed the movie (which did not screw the story up)! 4 stars
5/05/08 Bnorm Awesome movie. suprisingly nasty too...the jesus freak lady got what she deserved 5 stars
5/03/08 Karrie Millheim I was impressed, I watched it again tonight, the monsters look cool 5 stars
5/03/08 MovieMaster Truly a wonderful adaptation from a great story. Who are, in the end the true monsters? 5 stars
4/27/08 Jayme Isaacs A Classic Masterpiece 5 stars
4/11/08 Jerome OMG this is classic filmmaking/screen adaptation who cares about the music? try thinking! 5 stars
4/09/08 scotty One of the absolute best films of 2007 5 stars
4/06/08 movie buff OMG what am I missing. Too many cliches and too much overacting. Horrible. 1 stars
4/05/08 Paytah It was alright. Kind of long, and the ending sucked. But overall... not bad. 4 stars
4/03/08 MOVIE MASTA Da PHANTASTIC This shit was off the hook son 5 stars
3/30/08 M Underated 4 stars
3/27/08 action movie fan alien.joyhn carpenter,s the thing and now the mist-human nature vs yuchy creatures-true fea 5 stars
3/26/08 Servo Great movie and just a devastating ending. Havent been schocked like that in a while. 4 stars
3/12/08 hostick I loved it but i think the music was awful at the end!!! 4 stars
2/15/08 Jimbo Unreal movie, best King movie in years, the ending was great, pity the dimwits cant get it. 4 stars
2/07/08 C. Despite the questionable effects/graphics, the incredible social dynamics blew my mind. 4 stars
1/20/08 matthew oh man what a fucked ending. brilliant film, probably the best King adaptation 5 stars
12/27/07 Jack An instant horror classic. Not torture-porn. There's a difference and this film nails it. 5 stars
12/18/07 Tory Seriously, how could you like this movie, and not I am Legend. Seriously?. . . 2 stars
12/17/07 Tom Servo Good to have you back Mr.King 5 stars
12/15/07 John Anthony Worth seeing despite the ending. Why didn't they just get some gas? 4 stars
12/11/07 Ole Man Bourbon Good ending, good action, bad dialogue. Pretty broad in terms of metaphor. 3 stars
12/04/07 ES I really enjoyed it, it's a great movie 4 stars
12/03/07 mtop completely incredible film, the best ive seen all year Stephen king has done it once again 5 stars
12/02/07 Grigory So bad 1 stars
12/01/07 Jonathan Rhoades I liked the film all except for the gawd awful music toward the end. That kills the movie 3 stars
11/28/07 Luisa Suspenseful, entertaining and disturbing...what horror films should be! 5 stars
11/27/07 Dan Rugg One of the best Stephen King films yet!!! 5 stars
11/27/07 Darkknight21c Good film. But..the rationalists at the end display the most irrationality. Think about it. 4 stars
11/26/07 Rogue Gallart How it ends... well, I couldn’t move from my seat, I was that blown away by the power of it 5 stars
11/26/07 Danielle Ophelia The soldier's death was the most disturbing scene by far. 4 stars
11/25/07 AJ Muller Not anti-religion, but anti-fanatic. Phenomenal and shocking. A classic. 5 stars
11/25/07 Rogue Gallart The last 10 minutes of the movie is cinematic history! 5 stars
11/25/07 Brian Mckay a faithful adaptation of the novella, except for the pull-no-punches ending (it's better!) 4 stars
11/24/07 Jim the Movie Freak One of the year's very very best films 5 stars
11/22/07 dalafa Just saw this movie tonight, when the siren goes off at the beginning I was hooked. 4 stars
11/22/07 VLTampa Abandon Hope All Who Enter! 4 stars
11/22/07 Ron20003 Not enough monsters. Too much talking! Sucky ending 1 stars
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  21-Nov-2007 (R)
  DVD: 25-Mar-2008



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