The Mist ***
Directed by Frank Darabont
Written by Frank Darabont, based on the story by Stephen King
Thomas Jane as David Drayton
Nathan Gamble as Billy Drayton
Laurie Holden as Amanda Dumfries
Andre Brauer as Brent Norton
Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody
Toby Jones as Ollie
Alexa Davalos as Sally
David Jensen as Myron Lafleur
William Sadler as Jim Grondin
Jack Hurst as Joe Eagleton
Chris Owen as Norm
Frances Sternhagen as Irene
Sam Witwer as Wayne Jessup
127 Minutes(Rated R for violence, terror and gore, and language. )
"The Mist" is the long awaited new film from Frank Darabont, and while in the end this is certainly his worst film, I suppose that even his lesser works end up being worthwhile. With his first three films-what is now a classic, "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Green Mile," and a wonderfully under seen Jim Carey film "The Majestic"-before "The Mist" Darabont was almost like a modern day Frank Capra-offering nice movies that just generally make you feel good-perhaps that's a bold statement to say about "The Green Mile," which ends up having a quite depressing ending depending on the viewer watching it. Adapting from Stephen King for his first two films, Darabont is returning to those roots and trying something new by doing a thriller. Minimizing gore, inserting odd bug creatures, offering a few sociological arguments, and having an ironically delicious ending, "The Mist" is quite good and by the end you will have had a good time.
Our star is Thomas Jane as David Drayton, a family movie poster artist who just had a tree fall into his studio the night of a big storm. Leaving his wife behind the next morning as he takes his son to the grocery store for some supplies, David will never suspect what will be in store for him once he makes it there. It isn't long before a man comes running in proclaiming that "something in the mist" took one of the townspeople. The mist covers the entire supermarket, which of course has a plate glass front window. When David ends up seeing a tentacle creature rip apart the supermarket bag boy, it becomes a question between the people stuck in the store if David and the others are crazy or not. And it doesn't help that the senile Mrs. Carmody, played by Marcia Gay Harden for the third time in the last month, is convinced that its the End of Days, and she begins to make a group of followers to make sacrifices to God to make him happy.And for the next few days the townspeople try to avoid these flying creatures that keep trying to get in and at the same time try to survive each other.
Ninety percent of the movie does indeed take place in this supermarket, and I wish that Darabont had worked a little harder trying to make the setting more like a character itself-but I've always been a fan of settings being characters, for example the swimming pool in "Matchstick Men," or even the car in "Little Miss Sunshine." The special effects are rather corny-something that you'd see in a made for television movie, but it doesn't stand out as a problem. Most of the movie is just a good time, with a few unpredictable twists, and moments where you actually do not know when or how it will end. We loose characters left and right without any remorse, with the same pacing as last years great "Children of Men." And when the end finally does come, and the last five minutes will likely end up splitting the crowd that goes to see it, as has already been proven, you will either buy the ironic fate or you will just plain walk out mad, and that's all I'll say on that matter. Although perhaps Darabont went a little overboard with the music during the finale-a rather high pitched woman dramatically chanting. Far too much.
I really liked the way the ensemble worked-Thomas Jane is quite tolerable, but its fun supporting work by Marcia Gay Harden, and Toby Jones from last years under seen "Infamous" that really shine. And then we have a few Darabont regulars like Laurie Holden and Darabont's personal favorite Jeffrey DeMunn, who has been in all of his movies to date. They all work well together, and I actually preferred the scenes of civil strife to the scenes of bug critters trying to get in-it works as a monster movie and one with some minor social commentary. By the end, I was certain that "The Mist" is 2007's Like It Or Hate It movie, with last year it being what I thought was great "Lady in the Water." Therefore its a hard film to recommend, because there just isn't much of a middle ground. But I had quite a good time watching it, and despite some rather corny lines of dialogue here and there-none of which I can quote verbatim-it is well made, and I look forward to what Darabont has in store for us next-a remake of "Fahrenheit 451" with Tom Hanks rumored to play the lead. I'm there.