Aug 20, 2010

[Movies] The Mist (2007)

The Mist (2007)I'm not very good with horror movies. I've said this before and as I start this review, I have to bring it up again. And it's not that I don't like horror and thriller movies. It's really more that I know that I don't handle them well despite how much I appreciate the stories themselves. And thus the reason why I still end up watching them despite the fact they send my blood pressure through the roof almost every time.

Plus it doesn't help that my partner is a big horror movie buff. As part of our geeky cultural exchange program of sorts. I introduce him to things I love like Star Trek and Dune. He introduces me to horror movies of interest. Well, that and romantic comedies, as odd as that sounds.

Stephen King is a great writer and one whose stories tend to come out more appealing to a larger audience than most. He's certainly consistent in terms of books become decently performing movies with a few of them truly standing out more than others. As much as people feel that he's a bit campy in that sense or that he's become somewhat repetitious, however you can't fault the results when you get down to it.

The Mist is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It was directed by Frank Darabont, who appears to have a thing for directing Stephen King movies, namely The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

The movie begins with a rather violent storm that sends artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane), his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) and their son Billy (Nathan Gamble) into their storm cellar for the night. The next day greets them with scenes of devastation all around and David opts to take Billy and their neighbor Brent (Andre Braugher) into town to get supplies. Thus a significant number of people are at the local supermarket with the same idea including a few soldiers from the nearby military base when the incident happens.

Norm is taken by claw-lined tentacles from the...Image via WikipediaA strange mist quickly descends over the town, somehow triggering the tornado sirens. As the supermarket shoppers stop in their activities to take notice, Dan (Jeffrey DeMunn) runs in with a bloody nose and other injuries claiming there's something lurking in the mist. The mist soon envelops the entire building, the store patrons seal themselves in as tremors shake the entire building. Now the residents are holed up in the supermarket, clueless as to what is going on outside and what might be lurking in the foggy depths.

The movie certainly had excellent pacing and played the element of the lack of visibility very well. The whole point of not seeing most of the monsters or how some of the people actually died is a classic horror movie technique that was used quite effectively. Too often such movies become too enamored with their special effects and take every chance they can get to showcase just how good the monsters look. This movie didn't go that route and made excellent use of shadows, low light and of course the mist.

Thomas Jane was actually pretty good as the lead and his performance here seemed a lot better than in other movies where I had seen him such as Deep Blue See or even (gasp!) The Sweetest Thing. He was certainly believable as a dedicated father and just a man trying to stand up for the right thing in the fact of the religious fanatic Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden). And of course it really him all the more that Harden was an excellent point of contrast and the kind of crazy character you know spells trouble in such movies.

The movie had a few more sub-plots for some of the characters such as the cashier Sally (Alexa Davalos) having feelings for Private Jessup (Samuel Witwer), that in the end I really didn't care for. They all ended up feeling like that much extra clutter that only served to make certain deaths somewhat more emotionally significant. But given the sheer number of people who die, as is the way of horror movies, this really felt like time ill-spent. But this is a minor issue for me and it didn't have too much of an impact overall.

I researched a bit into the original novella and was surprised at how certain plot points in the movie were not in the book. And quite frankly, they were rather good changes (I felt) and overall gave the movie a lot more meat to work with. My kudos to the screenwriters for expanding the story in the way that they did so - top notch job and an excellent example to others of how an adaptation should be managed.

The Mist is a good mix of classic horror movie methods in a story that comes with a science fiction twist that doesn't feel forced. It gets 4 acid web weaving spiders out of a possible 5.
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