Published at: Nov. 21, 2007, 10:19 p.m. CST by Moriarty
Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.
I’m not sure when I’m going to check out this final cut of the film, but I know that I won’t be taking my wife to see it with me. She’s met Frank a few times and she loves SHAWSHANK and she thinks Frank is very sweet and nice, and if she sees this movie, that opinion will change. She’ll realize that Frank’s got... issues. And I genuinely think she’ll be too upset by certain choices he makes in the movie to be able to enjoy it. So this is one I’ll see with my friends in the next few days.
Is Capone pro or con? I know that some of the other contributors here really didn’t like the film at all, and I’m actually more interested to read those explanations than one I agree with at this point. Let’s see...
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
As closely affiliated as writer-director Frank Darabont's career is with the works of Stephen King (he adapted and directed THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE), people tend to forget that Darabont has never actually worked on a King-related film based on the types of stories for which the master of horror is actually known. In other words, THE MIST is Darabont's very first attempt at horror in its purest form, where scaring the wee-wee out of you is among its prime objectives. He gives us hideous, oversize insect-like monsters that hide in a thick-as-soup mist that moves in over a small Maine town at an alarming speed. I guarantee you'll jump out of your seat a half-dozen times at least. And there's a fair amount of wonderfully realized gore moments that will make old-school make-up effects lovers grin from ear to ear. But these are the sorts of things you'd expect from any creature feature of quality.
What Darabont does is something different, and it's what will always separate his films from other directors who dare to venture into the world of the supernatural, otherworldly, creep shows. Darabont gives a shit about the characters in his films. They aren't pieces of two-dimensional meat to be ripped apart for the glorification of the monsters. And he remembers that if we as an audience care about the characters, the threat upon or taking of their lives is made all the more terrifying. These people are actually living breathing people in danger. They aren't college students or campers more worried about how their hair and clothes look than the maniac coming at them with a machete. The people trapped in the grocery store setting are us, typical Americans, maybe with a few less minorities than the rest of the nation, but this is New England. Some of these people rise to the occasion and attempt to be heroes, while other cower and hide behind religion as the reason for all their troubles. In fact, the storyline about the religious war that erupts in the store is clearly meant to represent a microcosm of America right now, and how we react when fear (real or imagined) in injected into our lives.
When I was in my first year of journalism school, I had a writing professor use King's original novella “The Mist” as an excellent example of descriptive language. The way he details the brand-name products that sit on the shelves or scattered across the store's floor was a writing style this professor wanted us to emulate. And Darabont's execution of this film notices all of these things as well. He isn't interested in examining the reasons the mist has come. There are serious indicators that things may have started as a result of a military experiment gone wrong at a nearby base, but there comes a time when the past isn't nearly as important as the future. First the goal is stay safe; then it becomes escape. Darabont's pacing is key to building this suspense. He's not interested in rushing through this tale, and the slowly growing mob mentality inside the store wouldn't even be possible is the director didn't simply take his time telling this story. Thomas Jane is perfect as the reluctant hero, who true objective is to protect his son. I also liked Toby Jones as one of the store employees, who actually does resemble a more traditional hero in every way but looks. In many ways, he's the film's secret weapon.
I'm guessing those with more religious leanings are going to roll their eyes at Marcia Gay Harden's Mrs. Carmody, a zealot who is generally unpleasant even before the mist rolls in and just gets worse and more bold as the film goes on. She claims to be the voice of God, which would be a hell of a lot easier to dismiss if her predictions would just stop coming true. But she's also petty in her rages against others who dismiss her claims, and her eventual turn to blood lust comes across as a bit over the top when you actually see it on the screen. This is no fault of Harden's. She plays the character to perfection, and there's a look in her eyes that is so convincing that even I might have had a hard time resisting her pull if I were in that situation.
There's a sequence involving a small group of people daring to travel outside the grocery store to the pharmacy next door to get medical supplies that is so chilling and nerve wracking that I found myself grinding my teeth without even realizing it for several minutes. I almost gave myself a migraine, dammit. And the scene is probably the scariest I've seen all year. For King purists, the biggest change from the source material is Darabont's more definitive ending, and holy shit on a Ritz cracker, you will not be able to shake this ending. For those who find Darabont overly sentimental (thanks in large part to his directing work on THE MAJESTIC), let's just say you won't have that issue with THE MIST. Good luck shaking it when the film is over. This is the best kind of scare film: one that not only remembers that some of the greatest horror movies of all time have an underlying message about the times, but also doesn't forget to throw all sorts of disgusting monsters in your face and frighten you relentlessly. THE MIST reminds me why I love King's writing so much and why Darabont's filmmaking will also be something to look forward to.