Image by Ralph Nelson, trailer courtesy of youtube.com
The Mist is a film that conforms to the jumpy and loud horror film genre yet incorporates deeper, more believable characters, emotion and religion. It shows how easily influenced and dangerous people can in perilous situations.
Based on the Stephen King novella, the film was written and directed by Frank Darabont. For those who watch the AMC show The Walking Dead, the filming techniques and cast are very similar.
The film opens in a small, mountainous Maine town (typical for King). As we meet our main character David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a New York City artist, the scene pans to an unusual storm that passes through the area. After much of the town is destroyed, a strange dense fog emerges out of the mountains.
The introduction to this film is very much like a typical horror film introduction. It has that slow pace where it shows people’s normal everyday life and slowly transitions into unnatural and atypical chaos.
As we shadow David and his young son Billy (Nathan Gamble), we eventually end up at the local grocery store. As fire trucks and military vehicles speed by, we can assume that this mist is not the result of some natural storm nor is it safe. The only question is: what is it covering and was leaving Davids wife at home a good idea? Probably not.
The first 20 minutes of this film prove to be useful in showing the mentality of people in small towns. Whenever faced with some perilous situation, they always seem to mediate situations that they cannot handle.
As the mist approaches the Maine grocery story, David and Billy, along with about 30 others, lock themselves in the store. As they watch this smog surround the store windows, it is unknown as to the what lies beneath this cloak of mystery. We can assume it is an entity of evil motives, especially after one poor bastard decides to run to his truck and flee, naturally getting within 20 feet of the store when we hear screams followed by crunching bone and squirting blood.
As for the characters in the store, roughly a dozen of the 30 have a purpose and a unique quality that is later used in the film. Apart from David and Billy, there is Amanda (Laurie Holden) the moral teacher, Brent (Andre Braugher) the logic-obsessed lawyer, Jim (William Sadler) the local small-minded fool and Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) the religious radical who believes the mist is a punishment from God and everyone is going to die.
Even though it is obvious this mist is not covering fuzzy teddy bears, what it is covering is something I never expected to see. And when we do set eyes on these creatures, the film and the danger becomes real.
The one aspect that set this film apart from other disaster/horror films was the role of religion and brainwashing. It is true that many horror films have a religious aspect, but in The Mist, it is used to control people than prove the horror.
After a series of botched attempts to see what is in the fog, David and Amanda must now face a new danger — the influential minds of scared people under the control of Carmody.
As I watched the scenes involving Carmody and her preaching, specifically when they were accusing a military officer of retaining information about the mist, I was reminded of a disturbing scene from the 2005 film War of the Worlds. When Tom Cruise’s character and his family are traveling in the only car left running, they come to a bridge that is swarmed with chaotic people. As Cruise and his family exit the vehicle, they watch as the crowd reduce themselves to savages and eventually shoot themselves over the car.
Transitioning back to The Mist, we get a similar savage-like feeling as these brainwashed people tear this military officer apart, eventually stabbing him multiple times and throwing him into the parking lot to later be eaten by the monsters under the mist.
Although this scene may be disturbing, it is no match to the emotions released in the last scenes. They are incomprehensible moments that leave you mind-boggled.
As for entertainment, The Mist is top notch. The monsters are cool looking, the acting is good, the emotion is strong and the action is startling. It incorporates all the human flaws and really depicts, in my mind, what people would do in a situation like this. As one character states, “if you scare people enough, they will do any shit you ask as long as you offer a solution.”