Frank Darabont takes on Stephen King's work yet again by tackling The Mist. Darabont previously directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, two films based on Stephen King works, and two films that were absolutely brilliant. Given these past projects, Darabont has a lot of weight on his shoulders to make another masterpiece. The Mist is by no means a masterpiece, but it is an accomplishment that Darabont should be proud of.
Thomas Jane plays David Drayton, a man who lives with his wife and son in a small town in Maine. After an intense storm strikes, an unexplainable mist begins to float through the town. In the beginning, nobody paid any mind to this strange phenomena. But while David and his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) are shopping at the local supermarket, a fellow townie bursts through the doors raving about creatures in the mist. The supermarket is locked from the inside as the mist engulfs it, cutting off the townspeople from the rest of the world. As the threat of monsters becomes more and more real, the desperate inhabitants of the store begin to look for any possible solution to save themselves. A local bible nut named Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) rises from the crowd to offer salvation through God's will. As the townsfolk begin to choose sides, tension rises in the small store, raising the question, "Who are the real monsters: those outside the store, or those on the inside?"
The Mist is Frank Darabont's first horror film, and he handles the task very well. Acting as director and writer, he does an excellent job of balancing the threat of the monsters and the irrationality of man. With this movie, Darabont shows us what would happen if our life was suddenly cut off by taking away all of our lifelines. The way the characters are shown degenerating into thoughtless drones who flock to anybody that offers hope is an effective commentary on how dependent we are on others. The monsters created by Darabont are in fact scary if not terrifying. The wide variety of creatures that he unleashed to the world kept me eager to see what would appear next. The cinematography was pretty plain, but given the restricted environment he had to work with, Darabont made do with what he had. Fancy camera work was not necessary though, as the true feat was capturing the feeling of desperation and dread on camera. The dialogue at times became stale and sometimes hackneyed, but the rest of the script was well paced and did a good job at getting it's message across.
Thomas Jane does a good job in his role as David, the level headed family man who is just trying to keep his son safe. I say a good job because he neither dazzled me with an outstanding performance nor did he bore me with a terrible one. His compassion for his son felt real and overall Jane was entertaining to watch. But the person who really deserves attention for her performance is Marcia Gay Harden. As God-obsessed Mrs. Carmody, Harden personifies a character who is not particularly likable, but indeed a persuasive and even manipulative hierarch. Chances are you will greatly dislike Mrs. Carmody, but that just goes to show how great Harden's performance is. The rest of the supporting cast provide little as far as entertainment is concerned, with the exception of Toby Jones, who played a supermarket worker named Ollie. Actually, Ollie turned out to be my favorite character of the entire movie. If you watch, you will find out why.
It has been a good year for Stephen King films. First 1408 sent shivers down our spine as one man's life unravels before our eyes, and now The Mist has come to frighten us by showing what happens when you tear the fabric of human nature. Frank Darabont has proved himself to be a great director who has a knack for digging into the core of human emotion. But I cannot say The Mist is without fault. It does indulge in some horror cliches, and Darabont's new ending will definitely be way too much for some to handle. The bitterly ironic ending left me feeling absolutely terrible, and I actually felt like crying when I saw it. Thinking back on it, it wasn't a bad ending, but it was far too depressing to be considered great. Aside from that, The Mist was a very good film, and I recommend it. My Rating: (7.5/10)