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Film Review Of The Mist (2007)

Film Review Of The Mist (2007) David Drayton: _I'm not sure I believe it, and I was here. What we saw was impossible. You know that, don't you? What do we say? How do we... convince them? Ollie, what the hell were those tentacles even attached to?_
Who do you side with in the face of death? Your group splits in two, divided by religion and logic. Who do you choose? That is the question faced by family man David Drayton (Thomas Jane) in Frank Darabont_s adaptation of Stephen King_s novella The Mist. Not the most prolific of film-makers, if one of the most consistent, Darabonts adaptations of King_s books are arguably the best committed to celluloid thus far. Given the amount of turkeys adapted from his work, I approached this film with high hopes, if a little apprehension. I was not disappointed. My expectations were more than exceeded, and I was in no way prepared for the most anti-Hollywood ending of any major motion picture that I have ever seen.
With part of his house destroyed in a freak storm, Drayton heads to town with his young son, leaving his wife at home. His aim: to bring back provisions and find out who else has lost power. Shortly after entering the local market, Darabont regular Jeffrey DeMunn runs frantically into the store, sporting an ominously bloody nose and warning that something came out of the mist and took his friend. David and the townsfolk look on as the mist descends upon the town and engulfs the store.
Drawing inevitable comparisons to John Carpenter_s The Fog (also adapted from a novel by King rival James Herbert), those comparisons must end there. Sure, this is ultimately a film about some kind of cloud from which murderous creatures appear, but that_s the only similarity. The Mist is a film about how people cope with terror, the fight for survival and the inevitable creation of factions, splitting away from a central unit. There are the nay-sayers, those who refuse to believe that anything poses a threat to them despite growing evidence to the contrary. Then there are those who choose to side with the religious nutcase, Mrs Carmody, played with real venom and fervour by Marcia Gay Harden (Millers Crossing). Her claim is that God is punishing them all by sending the creatures, some of which even fly, yet a military experiment gone wrong seems to be the cause. A group also develops around Drayton. He emerges as a natural leader, but he is only human. Shielding his son from the events unfolding proves difficult, and witnessing a gruesome death has left him shell-shocked.
The Mist is most effective when forcing its audience to ask questions of themselves. _What would you do? Would you have made that choice?_ A key scene involving the wonderful Toby Jones (as the store_s sharp-shooting grocery packer) will first have you cheering in agreement then asking if his act was justified. Good effects, great characters and a perfectly executed air of fear make for a solid movie. We all know how difficult the horror genre is to get right. Here, Darabont nails it. Like Cloverfield, we are treated to the sight of multiple smaller CGI creatures, but when a huge monster appears, we only get a glimpse. Less is more. Darabont was right to avoid overkill. For me, The Mist is up there as the best horror of 2007/2008, especially when you consider some of the dirge released in cinemas before and after. If anyone can explain the delay in the release of this film in this country then I would love to hear it.
I can_t finish this review without talking a little bit about the ending. Of course I_m not going to spoil it for you. All I will say is this: be prepared. It is no surprise then that King gave his full backing to Darabont_s proposed change to the ending of his story. After The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption he could be confident that finally, here was a director that could adapt his work well. This version haunted me for days.
On a final note, I have to sing the praises of Thomas Jane. I loved him in The Punisher, he convinced me then that he was a bonafide leading man, not a traditional one, but one to watch nonetheless. The Mist not only maintains that status but also allows Jane to show some range. His portrayal of David Drayton is far from the usual take charge save-the-day alpha male. This is a man with fear and confusion written all over his face, yet it does not weaken him. Edge of your seat stuff? Absolutely. A welcome alternative to recent bland horror remakes? Definitely. Frank Darabont_ s finest hour? Maybe not, but that_s not a criticism. The man can do melodrama, and now, horror. Whats next?
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