The Mist (2007)
From The writer/director pair that brought you the greatest film of all time (The Shawshank Redemption according to IMDB) and the movie about the man who has a peeing problem (The Green Mile) comes something completely different. Itís horror, itís gory, itís mired in religion and doomsday talk and itís freaking amazing.
When as small town experiences some heavy storming, the community gathers at the local grocery story to collect supplies. But when a heavy fog bank rolls in and one man insists that thereís something in the mist, the shoppers wonder what they should do. Some, led by Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) believe thereís nothing out there while a select few experience an event that leaves no doubt there is indeed something in the mist. And itís up to David Drayton (Thomas Jane) to prove there is before the whole crowd ventures out to their deaths.
Of course, the monsters exist. It wouldnít be much of a movie without it, but what becomes compelling is how the people react to it. Some start a practical defense of the store while others panic and make a mad dash for their homes. But one woman, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), believes there is something more to this mist and begins preaching an end-times message that begins to fuel the flames between people and groups.
Therefore, like the best of horror, itís about how people are the monsters. The commentary isnít all that subtle, but subtly isnít exactly The Mistís gig, especially after the giant tentacle attack. What becomes compelling is seeing how fear, desperation and ego gives way to people descending into something almost worse than animals. The conflicts and fights never feel forced, constructed or illogical. Itís all an inevitable part of who the characters are and how they see the world.
That being said, not all characters are depicted equal. Mrs. Carmody is perhaps a bit overplayed and exaggerated as the bible thumping bitch who condescends to the ďsinnersĒ that surround her. At times, it fits perfectly with the tone and story, but occasionally it just seems too over-the-top and corny. Then again, Iím also talking about the film where a tentacle monster drags a boy into the mist.
Given the current state of religious crazies, sheís not that far-fetched of a character. Sheíd fit in just fine with the good ole Westboro Baptist Church. In the filmís defense, the film isnít so clear cut ideologically, giving religious people a break when a Biker says ďHey, crazy lady, I believe in God, too. I just donít think heís the bloodthirsty asshole you make him out to be,Ē which, for my money, is a notion a good number of religious people would do well to ponder over.
Regardless, The Mist works fantastically as a portrait of humanity in desperation, which makes the last act one of the most honest, brilliant and ballsy endings youíre likely to see on film. I wouldnít dream of spoiling it, but I will say that itís an ending that seamlessly finds a way to bridge narrative and theme into a raw and powerful moment.
In some ways, itís the ending which elevates The Mist as one of the most notable and well-done horror films of the past decade. However, itís a fun film throughout with strong writing, a good mood and superb pacing. Itís a new direction for Darabont, more biting and bold, which has me much more interested in his future in film.