Theatrical & DVD Review: The Mist
Another review that I didn’t get posted because of the future of the show being in flux, having now listed to the latest episode, I want to sort of time this right and put it up before the show with a couple of additional notes coming from having just watched it again on DVD as well…
In a small northeastern town, a devastating storm has just hit, causing some property damage as well as knocking out some power. Local artist David Drayton has taken his son into town to stock up on a few things at the local grocery store, when suddenly, this encompassing mist starts to come through the town, with one of the townspeople running into the store, screaming that something in the mist is killing people. After the gathered people in the grocery store see this for themselves, they hunker down in the store, trying to figure what exactly is out there and what’s really happening.
And so the latest movie from director Frank Darabont begins, and my stretch of seeing great movies continues. The Mist is Darabont’s third adaptation of a Stephen King story (the other two are The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) and with The Mist, Darabont travels to more horrific material than what he’s tackled before. I’ve never read the King story, but from what I’ve been able to gather, it’s almost like King is wanting to dabble in some H.P. Lovecraft type of territory. From what one of my friends has told me, Darabont has changed the ending into something way more decisive and in my opinion, much more horrifying as well.
I really like stories that involve a group of people in a confined space, and The Mist certainly delivers that in spades, with about 90% of the film taking place inside this grocery store. It allows for some real intensity in storytelling and obviously puts a much greater emphasis on the performances of the actors involved. Darabont’s style here is quite a bit different from what he’s done before as his other movies have a little more clear theatrics involved. Darabont employs a rawer style here, using more handheld photography, but not going overboard by any means, and in my opinion anyway, it actually makes this fantastic situation seem more real.
Darabont has a great cast here, headed up by actor Thomas Jane as Drayton. Jane’s the rock of the film and his final moments in the film are about the best I’ve ever seen him in a movie, really delivering a gut-wrenching performance over the ultimate horror that occurs. Others in the cast include Andre Braugher, William Sadler, Laurie Holden, Frances Sternhagen and Jeffrey DeMunn. Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden is also part of the cast, as a bible-thumper who believes this entire situation to be the judgement day at hand, and in my opinion anyway, she’s the weakest link of the film, starting off already as a bit of a hateful person and just keeping that same note throughout the film. In her part, either in the direction of the character or else by casting someone else, had that character been made a little more even-keeled starting out and grown into the hateful person they became, that would’ve actually added more to the horror of the situation.
But still, this is a very good movie, and really I can live with Harden’s performance here. What was worse was the actual audience that we saw this with, which was one of the worst audiences that I’d seen a movie with in a long time- immature to the extreme, they’re the sort of audience that just makes a seasoned filmgoer like myself believe more and more that mass audiences really can’t handle a lot of unconventional stuff, or even mature stuff thrown at them. While I really enjoyed the film, this is one instance where I almost wish I could’ve waited to discover this one at home more than anything else. The Mist certainly does get a high recommendation, but just beware the audience that you see it with…
And now a little follow up (the above was written when the movie first came out), I just bought the 2-disk package on this last week and watched The Mist again last weekend. One of the highlights, actually the main reason to buy the 2-disk package of the film, is a “Director’s Cut” from Frank Darabont here which basically presents the film as he wanted to present it- in black and white. Darabont has a little introduction as to why he wanted to make the movie this way and I have to say, the final result is far superior to how it was originally shown. A black and white presentation, especially with a film like this, just adds to it’s creepiness and actually keeps your focus more on the entire piece. I plan to watch this again in color at some point in the future, but as far as I’m concerned, the black and white print is the way to see The Mist.
Also above, I mentioned my problems with Marcia Gay Harden in the film and after watching this again, I’m actually very cool with her performance now, and part of this… again… is probably due to the black and white presentation. Obviously I cannot recommend this enough.
On top of this, I’d highly encourage watching the featurettes on the disk as well, especially the Making of The Mist featurette- they talk to everyone about all aspects of the film. The most fun here though is with Frank Darabont himself who’s literally a kid in the candy store with this movie. And for those that might have a problem with the new ending (which I didn’t have a problem with the ending), no less than Stephen King himself says it’s a great ending and if he’d thought of it, he would’ve wrote it.
The Mist 2-Disk Special Edition is one great package, if you liked the movie in theatres, don’t hesitate for a moment to buy this package.