Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (2-DISC VERSION): Director Audio Commentary; Conversation with Stephen King; Webisodes; Trailers; Deleted Scenes (with Audio Comm); B&W Feature; Making Of; Taming the Beast; Monsters Among Us; Horror of it All.
THE pairing of Frank Darabont and Stephen King is proving to be an irresistible combination when it comes to making movies. Having already given us The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, the duo now deliver The Mist.
Put simply, this allegorical chiller is one of the best Hollywood horror films of recent years. It’s butt-clenchingly tense, jump out of your seat scary and fiercely intelligent to boot.
David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son Billy (Nathan Gamble) are among a large group of townspeople who find themselves trapped in the local grocery store when a strange, otherworldly mist descends upon their community. The mist contains creatures not of this world who prey upon anyone unfortunate enough to venture outside.
But as tensions rise among the store dwellers – who include the level headed manager Ollie (Toby Jones) and kindly school teahcer Amanda (Laurie Holden) – a new threat to their survival emerges from within the store in the form of religious fanatic Mrs Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden).
One of the many attractions of Darabont’s film (based on another of King’s short stories) is the way that it works on so many levels. Horror purists will appreciate the B-movie approach to some of the effects as well as the no-nonsense approach to the subject matter, which maintains an almost unrelenting bleakness throughout. While those with their eye on social issues will enjoy the many wry observations in Darabont’s beefed-up screenplay. The Friday night popcorn crowd, meanwhile, will simply enjoy being entertained.
But it’s the allegorical nature that proves the most fascinating, if a touch heavy-handed late on. Darabont manages to combine astute commentary on both the current concerns of terrorism and religious fundamentalism with the environmental fallout of tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina. And humanity fares very badly!
If his creatures are ruthlessly efficient killers, then his human subjects are infinitely worse, with Harden’s nutty religious extremist a genuinely chilling creation. Through her character’s development, Darabont is able to investigate humanity at its most primal and there are certainly some shocks in store.
Jane’s David Drayton offers a nice foil and some hope – but feels increasingly helpless to stem the flow of events around him, especially since Darabont caps everything with a deliciously wicked ending that leaves no room for traditional Hollywood sentiment.
And if that refusal to cop out may have contributed to the film’s disappointing American box office, it could just as easily place it in line for classic B-movie status in years to come. For this is certainly a classic horror movie in waiting that really shouldn’t be missed.
Running time: 2hrs 6mins
UK DVD Release: November 10, 2008
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