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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Mist, 2007. DVD Review

Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, Andre Braugher
Running Time: 125 minutes

Score: 7/10

Not to be confused with John Carpenter's The Fog, this is an entirely different sort of beast (although one dealing with a weather condition similar in form). Based on a 1980 novella by Stephen King, this is a horror movie directed by Frank Darabont. As he also directed the superb Shawshank Redemption, also based on a King short story, you have your seal of quality right there (On a side note the original novella apparantly inspired the computer games Half-Life and Silent Hill).

The film is set in King's favourite haunt, Maine, and deals with a small town and the aftermath of a storm. While checking out the damage caused to his house by the storm, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), and his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble) notice a thick cloud of mist heading towards town across the lake. Thinking nothing more of it they head into town with their neighbour, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), for supplies. While in the supermarket, they hear sirens and look on as a man with a bleeding head, Dan Miller, runs into the shop screaming about something dangerous in the mist. Shortly after the town is swamped by the mist and they hear strange noises and screams outside. Then all goes quiet before the store is hit by an earthquake. Not sure what's going on most of the people in the supermarket stay put while a couple head off to find out what has happened to their loved ones.

The rest settle down to see what happens. While getting something for his son in the supermarket's warehouse, David Drayton hears something large banging against the door of the loading dock. Telling some of the others about this they go to investigate. Opening the door of the loading dock they let something in and then things get really bad for them.

Meanwhile, Mrs Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) is convinced that all of the recent events point to the end times and that it is all Gods will. As events progress more and more of the survivors begin to side with her and listen to her cries for a sacrifice. David and his friends then have to not only survive the monsters in the mist but also the more dangerous human ones within.

Now this is a great little movie. I say little as it had a small budget but this was used brilliantly. The first few scenes did give it the feel of a made for TV movie, but my worries soon lifted as they headed into town. The tension is raised throughout the film and the horror you feel as Mrs Carmody's influence begins to take hold of some of the survivors is almost as bad as that felt whenever someone heads out into the mist. Characterisation on all involved is pretty good, and you are never sure who is going to make it to the end of the movie. All the actors involved are brilliant and really help you buy into their plight.

The monsters in the mist are, on the whole, weird looking and spooky (Bernie Wrightson helped in their design). Some of the CGI is a bit ropey, but this never really detracts from the film itself as the beasties are only a small part and are often hidden within the mist. In fact the effects seem to get better as the film progresses. It must be noted that Frank Darabont originally wanted the film to be in black and white which would probably make the CGI blend in even better. In fact the special edition DVD has a B&W version, but I have yet to get hold of that.

There is not much music used throughout the film but when it is it just rips the emotion up to another level. In particular the use of Host of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance near the end of the movie is abso-bleedin-fantastic. The whole feel of the movie is quite unlike that of most Hollywood films.

Speaking of the end of the movie, I guarantee it will stay with you for a long, long time. It works really well and although different from the end of the novella, Stephen King gave it his blessing and apparantly wished he had thought of it.

To sum up this is a great horror movie that may leave you feeling like you've been punched in the gut, but in a good way.

The film is released in the UK next month. Go check it out.


Paul said...

While not being a huge fan of Stephen King, i really enjoyed this film.

Ok, so it is set in Maine again (nice place to visit but i wouldn't want to live there), and i'm sure there's his trademark dream-sequence in there somewhere (cue spooky ghost noise) but the nearly one-location setting gave it a tight claustrophobic feel.

Is it a poor-man's Fog? not really, i think i actually preferred it (but dont make me say it out loud).

Cant give it the 7/10, more like a 6.75/10. a good saturday night yarn