$2.50 Reviews: The Mist (2007)

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$2.50 Reviews

The Mist

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The Mist is the type of horror film that works best as a thriller about people, while also giving them (and us) something to be afraid of. In this case, that thing is mist from the title, although since the mist itself isn't dangerous, it hides a bunch of creatures that are far more terrifying. But this is a film that's more about the relationships of the people and what they'll do when society breaks down around them.

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The plot begins with a major storm. It sends a tree through the house of our protagonist, David Drayton (Thomas Jane). He's a painter who works primarily on movie posters, although this ends up little relevance on the plot. However, his posters are destroyed, so he's understandably upset. He ends up taking his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble) and his neighbor, Brent (Andre Braugher) to the supermarket, as the power is out and therefore, supplies are needed. We end up spending the majority of the film at this locale, as everyone trying to feed their family ends up trapped at the store.

Mist roles in, as you'd expect given the title. Why they're initially so afraid of it, I'm not quite sure, but they treat it like it's a serial killer who is currently in possession of a minigun. And here is when things start going wrong. One of the people tries to leave, and he's eaten by tentacles. Yes, tentacles. Brent doesn't believe that this happened, so he and a few other people venture out, never to be seen again. Night falls, and we see wasp-like creatures (although about 100x the size of wasps we know). Oh, and the front of the store is only covered in glass, meaning almost anything could break in.

The basic set-up is that a group of people are trapped in a location by something that may or may not ever go away. Simple, right? What a lot of movies forget is that people are free-thinking creatures, and they don't necessarily have to agree with the protagonist. Oh, there are usually a couple of people who disagree, but they die early on to reaffirm that the lead is not to be questioned. This doesn't happen here; everyone thinks for themselves. They debate, they decide what to do on their own, and there are many different personalities that all matter when it comes to these discussions and decisions.

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This ends up dividing the supermarket into two main factions. First, we have Thomas Jane's all-American group of people who think logically. Even in here, there are people who think differently from one another. The other group is led by Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), who claims that the mist has been brought down by God and it's time for everyone to atone for their sins. Initially, she's singled out as the crazy one, but as the days trudge on, more and more people begin seeing things from her perspective, effectively forming a cult.

It's the warring groups of people that makes The Mist worth watching. The monsters aren't seen all that frequently, and often times, they're not particularly frightening. Most of them are made of poor CGI, and while they're menacing, they don't seem real. I'll admit that a couple of scenes where the CGI was hidden by either the mist of darkness were quite scary, but two times out of a dozen isn't a very good percentage. No, The Mist works because the ever-present threat forces these people to act differently than they normally would, and seeing how their characters break down in this situation is both fascinating and terrifying.

Seeing how some of these people are after their society crumbles makes you think not only how people you know in real life would react, but also how you would fare in the situation. It's incredibly easy to place yourself within this film, And that's not just because of how all of the characters matter, but also thanks to the cinematography, which includes a lot of handheld shots, interesting zoom choices and almost a pseudo-documentary feel that works better than many of these "documentaries" because it isn't trying to fool us. We know it's a staged film, but it's immersive regardless.

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The Mist's weakness comes from its ending, which I found to be a letdown. It felt contrived, pointless, completely unrelated to most of the film, melodramatic yet failing to make me feel anything, and also coming too suddenly. Is it a twist ending? Not really although it might feel like that. Obviously, I can't tell you what happens and why that specifically doesn't work, but I think it'll disappoint a lot of people given the way it does pan out.

Oh, and if you're hoping for a definite explanation about what the mist is and where these creatures come from, you'll probably be disappointed. It's mentioned at one point that they might be the result of a military experiment, although this is mentioned once and not exactly stressed. I'm okay with this, because things are generally more frightening when we lack knowledge about them, but I can see some people not enjoying this.

The Mist is a very good horror/thriller film. It works as horror because the monsters are scary enough and they're always shrouded in mystery, and it works as a thriller because of the warring factions and the way that people in the film are always at ends with one another. Its weakest point is the ending, although I'll congratulate director Frank Darabont for more than likely having final say on the ending instead of having it butchered by the studio. It's still a great film that I'd recommend to horror and thriller fans alike.

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I agree about the ending although I had to watch it on Youtube so some bits got disjointed and I'm not sure if there is an alternate ending that is cheerier but the ending I did see was depressing. By the way didn't you used to do video game reviews? Just something that has been nagging at me.

cojo965:
I agree about the ending although I had to watch it on Youtube so some bits got disjointed and I'm not sure if there is an alternate ending that is cheerier but the ending I did see was depressing. By the way didn't you used to do video game reviews? Just something that has been nagging at me.

Nobody is supposed to remember those!

But, yes, I did 10 or do game reviews.

Marter:

cojo965:
I agree about the ending although I had to watch it on Youtube so some bits got disjointed and I'm not sure if there is an alternate ending that is cheerier but the ending I did see was depressing. By the way didn't you used to do video game reviews? Just something that has been nagging at me.

Nobody is supposed to remember those!

But, yes, I did 10 or do game reviews.

Hey can't blame ya, watching and reviewing a movie a day is one thing but doing that and games is a bit much.

cojo965:
Hey can't blame ya, watching and reviewing a movie a day is one thing but doing that and games is a bit much.

It's more the fact that the majority of them were written before I wrote a single film review, meaning they're all at least two years old and therefore awful (in my eyes).

But, yeah, that's basically why I stopped. Plus, they're way more time consuming.

I really enjoyed the ending in this one compared the original novel ending which was basically them driving off into the unknown after a brief radio transmission. Basically I felt the movie version gave more closure while being more grim as a complement to the atmosphere established up to that point.

EDIT: Let me add that the mention of the military base was basically a shout out to King's other novels that fans of his books would recognise. Most notably the ones detailing the lone gunman and the 7(?) pillars.

I agree, the ending was a real let down. It was as if the writers had all sat down and decide on making the most melodramatic sad ending they could think of and go with that. Apart from that though, it was a really good movie and it was nice for the protagonast to be the outnumbered one for once.

I loved the ending of this movie especially because I'm cold, cynical and very negative. I hate it when horror movies have happy endings and a few people get away with no repercussions.

Sounds like it could have been the work of Cthulhu... or maybe the antagonist of Persona 4.

Good review though Marter, my girlfriend loves these kinds of movies so I might give it a shot.

The ending is only that way because hollywood likes to be definitive and because Idoubt it would be likely king was going to be happy with a sequel (not that they need his approval).

I actually didn't like this movie. It wasn't scary and hardly thrilling or suspenseful. The only enjoyment Igot out of it was the dark tower cameo painting at the beginning.

 

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