Directed by: Frank Darabont
Premise: An adaptation of Stephen King’s novella. A fog descends on a small New England town, trapping residents inside of a grocery store. When it’s discovered that there are flesh-eating monsters in the fog, the residents take shelter and wait out the threat but conflicts between the residents threaten to rip them apart.
What Works: Although The Mist is adapted from a Stephen King novella, the film owes a lot to Rod Serling and George A. Romero. This is a horror picture, but the film takes the opportunity to be intelligent while delivering some great scares. The film scores on both accounts, especially in comparison to many of the neo-splatter films that have been released in the past two years. The story escalates its threats both within the store and outside of it, as a religious fanatic (Marcia Gay Harden) becomes the spiritual guru of a growing segment of citizens and her psychotic ramblings become a threat to the non-believers. As tensions increase, the citizens fight among each other, competing for power and control over the store’s resources. These issues and themes have been explored before in Serling’s Twilight Zone series and Romero’s Living Dead films, but The Mist does its story very well with authentic characters and credible decisions. As a horror film, The Mist is able to execute some of the characteristic scenarios, such as putting our heroes in a dark place where the monsters may or may not be, but the film has enough respect for the audience to give our characters a reason to be there and allow them credible actions when they come face to face with the monsters.
What Doesn’t: The ending of The Mist is problematic. The irony and darkness of the conclusion is to be appreciated, but the character’s final decision flies in the face of the survival theme that fuels the film up to that point.
Bottom Line: Adaptations of Stephen King’s work have varied in quality over the years but The Mist is certainly one of the better films. The ending is too incongruous with the rest of the film to put it on par with The Shawshank Redemption or Misery but it does at least equal The Dead Zone and Pet Sematary.
Episode: #168 (December 2, 2007)