In The Mist, Frank Darabont returns to familiar territory, directing another movie based on a short story by Stephen King. Darabont struck gold in 1994 with The Shawshank Redemption and then came close to, but did not equal, that magic with 1999’s The Green Mile.
Is the third time a charm for Darabont working with King material? The answer is a resounding “yes”.
The Mist is near-perfect on every level.
Horror movie? Check.
Morality tale? Check.
Metaphor for today’s world? Check.
The plot concerns a Maine family man and artist, David Drayton (Thomas Jane going for his second go-round with King material, his first being the odd Dreamcatcher) and his son Billy, as they head into town to buy some groceries after a mysterious storm wipes out their power.
While at the store, an eerie mist settles in over the town. There, David and Billy meet up with school-teacher Amanda (Laurie Holden), a-holey neighbor Brent (Andre Braugher) and store clerk Ollie (Toby Jones), and realize that they are trapped in the store when terrible creatures lurking in the fog swarm the store.
But David and Billy may not have to fear the creatures outside as much as they have to fear the people inside. Most of them are whipped up into an apocalyptic frenzy by Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) a Bible-thumper who is certain that the mist and its creatures are God’s wrath for sinners on earth. And when she starts to demand human sacrifices to the beasts, David and his small rag-tag group of followers must decide whether they want to stay and become sacrificial lambs, or brave the elements to find safety.
At times the script can get a little preachy, especially in the middle section when Marcia Gay Harden pretty much takes over the film, but it all pays off in the end.
Even though Darabont’s main goal is to provide us with a window to view humanity at its most basic level — survival — he doesn’t skimp on the gore, and his creatures are filled with creepy detail. Even the bugs have faces.
Simply put, The Mist is a thinking man’s splatter flick.
To be honest, the ads had me worried when I first saw them. The Mist looked low-budget and heavy handed what with all the religious babble, but Darabont turned in a quality film full of tension and introspective analysis. The ending’s a stunner to boot.
The Mist is not to be missed.
Filmed in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, The Mist offers a good picture. Muted on purpose to drape the film in a mist-like state, the picture suffers a bit, losing some vibrancy. However, images are always sharp and clear, and free of any distortion.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very workmanlike. Lows during the storm and earthquakes are deep and rumbling, and there is also an extended bass-heavy musical number in the film’s score. When the creepy crawlies come out to play, the surrounds buzz to life, engulfing the viewer in the soundscape. The Mist could pack and extra punch overall, and this is where a DTS track could have helped. But it’s nothing worth complaining about.
NOTE: This review is of the single-disc version of The Mist. There is also a 2-Disc version of the film currently available which includes more special features and a black and white version of the film.
The Commentary with Director Frank Darabont is entertaining. Darabont drops excellent bits of info throughout the film. Skip to the last 10 minutes and listen as he discusses his throught process of coming up with an ending to King’s novella, which lacked closure. It’s the highlight on this commentary track. Darabont doesn’t merely sit in on a viewing of the film and relay what’s happening on screen to the viewer. His commentary took 4 days to record, which he said was a record for him — in brevity. Apparently it took him 9 months to complete a commentary track for The Green Mile! You’re in for a real treat here.
Next up is a Discussion with Frank Darabont and Stephen King. It’s more like listening to two old friends compliment each other over and over again, but it’s fascinating never the less. They discuss a number of topics, from Darabont’s struggle to keep the film’s ending in tact to his first experience reading Stephen King. King mostly nods and grins as Darabont praises him, but he does chip in some good info now and then, and his recounting of watching Carrie in a packed moviehouse upon its initial release is worth the time.
There are a ton of deleted scenes. Most of them are extended scenes which are in the film.
Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist is about the famous movie poster artist who’s done posters for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and The Mist.
There are 3 Behind the Scenes Webisodes which detail the shooting of 3 different scenes in the film. It’s your basic “making of” stuff.
The Trailer Gallery offers up 3 different trailers for the film.
The Mist is what happens when a master returns to familiar ground. After three excellent films, I think it’s safe to say that Frank Darabont and Stephen King equals quality. Even better, The Mist is given solid treatment on DVD, with good A/V specs and a wealth of fascinating special features. Getting lost in The Mist has never been this enjoyable.
I recommend going the extra mile and picking up the 2-Disc version.