Tuesday, August 04, 2020 00:20

The Mist (2007)

At last, Hollywood are making monster films again, after several years doing very little except rip off Asian horror films if they made horror at all. Actually, this new trend seemed to commence with Korea’s enjoyable Thing from the Deep romp The Host, and it’s led to some good things. After all, since the days of Gojira scary monsters on screen have been used to symbolise scariness on the ground level and recently Cloverfield gave us a big sea-beast which attacked New York, probably after getting sick to death of all the Friends re-runs, but which led to some pretty obvious 9/11 comparisons. So we come to The Mist, Frank Darabont’s take on a Stephen King novella of the same title.

As with Cloverfield, the premise is fairly understated. The military – who have undoubtedly become our modern-day necromancers in film – have been experimenting with other dimensions at an isolated mountain base in semi-rural America. This leads to a ‘rift’ between coexistent dimensions and lifeforms are able to cross over – but this background story is virtually coincidental. The point is, things are in the mist which descends rapidly on the neighbouring small town after a devastating storm. Our main characters, as well as many of the townsfolk, end up trapped in the local supermarket, pinioned on all sides by lifeforms swathed in semi-visibility.

An interesting facet of this film is its refusal to depict all of the characters as heroic, rising up under pressure, working as a team. In true King style many of the people trapped at the store are panic-stricken, cowardly and petty and most notable of all considering our current political climate – especially in the States – religion is portrayed as an invidious entity which feeds on the desperation of the trapped people, rendering some among them despotic in mere hours. The performance of Marcia Gay Harden as local nut Mrs. Carmody is brave and well-played as she turns from laughing stock into prophet and thence into a polarising force. I think to lock horns with this undeniable facet of religious belief in a film, whatever your personal beliefs happen to be, takes some gumption. In fact, in the bitterly negative reviews of the film so far it has been this which has drawn down most derision, even though the film doesn’t just reflect negatively upon blind faith: it’s a refeshingly misanthropic film overall. I say refreshing, in that it makes me sit up and pay attention when, in film, people can be shown to get it wrong – here, spectacularly so. As someone who grew up in the 80s I still breathe a sigh of relief when it doesn’t all degenerate into an action movie.

The creatures themselves are a variety of nasties and Darabont is definitely right to tantalise rather than overawe the audience, but – my usual bugbear is that there is too much CGI. CGI has its place. For some of the effects, it works well, but some of the closer shots are disappointing. All the same, look out for winged things, squirming things, cthulhoid things (is that a word? – it is now) all of which are disappointed with their package holiday to our dimension.

This is a bleak and gutsy film, its characters are well-drawn and well acted enough to earn our empathy, and it delivers enough shocks to remain fresh. Just when I thought I daren’t watch another Stephen King adaptation, you know what? I didn’t waste my time with this one!

One Response to “The Mist (2007)”

  1. While I liked some aspects of the movie I also hated the CGI and really just prefer the elusive and haunting quality of the original novella.

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