If, two years ago, you told me that within a couple of years two excellent Stephen King film adaptations would be released, I would probably have laughed it off. Films like The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me, The Stand and 1408 are usually pretty far between (Note that I consider The Green Mile and Carrie to be the most over-rated King adaptations, so they do not appear here). I like most of the films that have been made from Stephen King novels, novellas, and short stories mainly because I like Stephen King, but I do not recommend many of them as truly good films.
Frank Darabont’s (writing and directing) The Mist adapts a horror novella of the same name. King’s horror work has been the most difficult material to adapt, but this film is comparable to other genre stand-outs such as The Shining and 1408.
A brief, dramatic thunderstorm is followed by a freak mist that descends on a small New England town. As the mist permeates the town, people congregate in the local supermarket and hardware store to stock up and gather supplies. David Drayton (Thomas Jane), his son (Nathan Gamble), and his neighbor (Andre Braugher) are among them. Tension builds as a steady stream of military vehicles pass through the mist headed south from a nearby base. But serious concern doesn’t start until one of the locals runs to the supermarket with blood spatters on his clothing and talking of monsters in the mist.
Indeed, there are horrors outside in the fog, but there are also horrors inside the market – as paranoia, irrationality and religion come into conflict with practical issues of survival.
Unlike many horror films, The Mist examines fear and its effects realistically, looks at the horror created by forces beyond human control and the even more terrifying horror that fear creates through forces that are completely within our grasp – our own fears, our beliefs and our treatment of each other. It does so using a classic formula which is comparable to films like Night of the Living Dead and, more recently, Feast.
The cinematography, editing and directing are all excellent. The acting is quite good – Marcia Gay Harden and William Sadler stood out for me – and the script is exactly where it needed to be for this adaptation.
Highly recommended for King fans and horror fans. Recommended for Sci-Fi fans. Weakly recommended for average cinema-goers who are not generally interested in horror.