Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Mist

Directed by Frank Darabont.
2007. Rated R, 125 minutes.
Thomas Jane
Marcia Gay Harden
Laurie Holden
Andre Braugher

A thick, ominous mist rolls into a small-town carrying with it some strange and vicious creatures. We, the viewers, get to hang out with some of the local yokels who are trapped in the supermarket. Based on a Stephen King novella.

It’s well-written horror as it pertains to the humans. When the cast inevitably starts dying off it is with believable, though not always good, reasoning they venture out into the forbidding mist. The opposition between religious resignation to one’s fate and survivalist pragmatism is well done. As the suddenly crowned prophetess, Marcia Gay Harden does a fabulous job in a thankless role. It’s thankless because the movie itself is definitely not on her character’s side. Finally, even though I correctly predicted the ending well before it happened it still manages to work.

It’s poorly written crap with regards to the mist and its inhabitants. In Cloverfield it was okay to not find out anything about the giant creature destroying Manhattan because no one in the movie knew anything to tell. Here, there are clearly people who know what caused the problem. Before they can tell us anything we get the long ago played out tactic of them inexplicably dying or being found dead just as they were either about to tell us what’s going on or when it becomes apparent they know what’s going on. These people are military personnel and in fairness to them, and maybe an indictment of the screenwriters, it’s hardly likely that soldiers of their rank (mostly privates) would really know anything anyway. The creatures themselves are numerous. The smaller ones are fine and do some dastardly things. The larger ones do as well but they’re poorly rendered. They either move mechanically or are made up of easy to spot cartoonish looking CGI. The latter is true for the first monster we “see”. It appears to be a giant land-walking octopus but all we see are its enormous but very fake tentacles causing all sorts of mayhem. This happens very early in the movie but we never again hear a peep out of this particular menace. None of these monsters seem to have any rhyme or reason for their actions and are all powerful and deadly. Our heroes are trapped in a store that we’re explicitly told has a front made up of 100% plate glass. Yet somehow, this movie runs longer than two hours and covers several days. Um…yeah.

This is a frustrating movie to watch. During all the human to human tension-building scenes, the writing is exceptional for horror movies. However, when the focus is on the things that make it a horror movie we get nothing even remotely original and our big bad monsters look like crap. On top of that, if these monsters were as bad as they’re supposed to be then these people have been allowed to live for far too long. If you’re a horror fan or a Stephen King fan give it a shot and you might like it more than I. If creature-features aren’t your thing, skip it and rest easy with the knowledge you’re only missing okayness, not greatness.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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