The Mist (2007)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Mist</strong> (2007)

(On DVD, December 2009) Stephen King’s “The Mist” having been a favourite story of mine ever since reading it in Skeleton Crew, I was apprehensive about seeing a big-screen adaptation.  Despite the track record of screenwriter/director Frank Darabont, what would become of the story?  As the film gets going, a number of things don’t quite seem to work: The dialogue seems forced, the intensity of the drama seems to jump prematurely, seemingly driven by anticipating the next plot beat rather than evolving organically.  But at the mist engulfs the characters and the monsters slowly appear, The Mist settles down and the bigger problems fade away.  Smaller problems remain: characters make stupid decisions (why, gee, golly yes: insects are attracted to light during night-time), keep making stupid decisions (when you hear “something” in a murderously monstrous environment, the time has come to run) and then make some more stupid decisions.  I also had mixed feelings about the film’s human antagonist, which goes so far into pious-evil territory that she becomes exasperating more than threatening: there’s a difference between hating a character and wanting other characters to hit her on the head with a shovel.  But the film gradually redeems itself with better and better material as it goes along, culminating in a pitch-dark ending that manages to one-up the novella’s original conclusion.  It all amounts to a fairly decent horror film, filled with disgust and terror and bleakness, not to mention tentacled monsters jousting for disgust with dangerous humans.  As an adaptation, it respects the original despite a few early issues.  While those flaws are a bit too annoying to make The Mist anything more than a modest success, the overall result is a respectable entry in the Stephen King adaptation canon.  The DVD has a charming audio commentary by Darabont as well as a featurette on artist Drew Struzan that eventually becomes quite pretentious, but skimps short on the special effects documentaries.

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