Author Topic: The Mist *****  (Read 5634 times)

Najemikon

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The Mist *****
« on: January 24, 2009, 01:32:49 PM »
The Mist
5 out of 5



After a devastating storm, David (Thomas Jane) takes his son Billy to town for supplies. It seems like a big cross-section of the locals have had the same idea. Soon a mysterious mist gathers around the supermarket and they become trapped by whatever is hiding in it, and by their own paranoia.

I’ve wanted to see this for a long time, especially since Pete gave it one of his famous not quite-5 star ratings! Course, he throws them around like sweets now. ;) I’ve given it full marks, but ask me again tomorrow and I may just have knocked one off again. It’s a long time since I’ve seen a film that has wound me up this much and right now, I think that’s its best quality. It will get right under your skin whether you want it to or not. Settle down, this could take a while. :training:

Another quality worth noting is that this film shouldn’t exist. Hollywood can’t make proper horror, it’s that simple, unless you count the Saws and Hostels, but I’m talking sophisticated b-movies that haunted American cinema in the 60s and 70s. For the past few years and maybe even longer, if you wanted to be scared you had to travel to Asia, Spain, or in my case at least, stay right at home in Britain. The days of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead are long gone, so a bit of a shock when Frank Darabont of all people bucks the trend! It shouldn’t be as he is like Spielberg; he can make optimistic crowd pleasers, yet with terrifying moments. But for such an uncompromising film to get through all the test screenings and studio executive bullshit is impressive. The controversial reception it received may mean they won’t make that mistake again, sadly.

The setup is old school. A group of people, handily representing a cross-section of conflicting social, political and religious views (plus child innocence to boot), are trapped by a super-natural event that possibly represents the end of the world, whether ushered in by the military, God or both. There are foolhardy missions to reach supplies, descents into madness and survivors turning on each other. This familiarity works in its favour though because it’s handled with originality. To be fair, it is based on a Stephen King novella almost 30 years old. Were clichés invented then? It’s Darabont’s film though and he continually avoids convention.

The script sometimes awkwardly makes sure everyone has their point of view and has a few clumsy metaphors, but overall is sophisticated and really gets you thinking. Darabont, now surely officially recognised as the best director of King’s work, chooses a handheld style, but don’t be concerned, because it’s just snappy and fast and shouldn’t cause motion sickness. Snappy and fast also describes several of the marvellous creatures lurking in the mist (or Mist, as it’s that important). The attacks on the store by night, then the pharmacy raid are incredible set-pieces. Other larger thingies are slow and stompy; one in particular is brief but awesome. In some ways, I enjoyed being reminded of Half-Life. Even the story hints at a similar origin. All though benefit from the Mist hiding their low budget origins. Although they’re CGI this film works like classic horror from the 40s or Spielberg’s Jaws because he can’t linger too long before you spot the joins. By the way, this review is of the black and white version and after a quick flick through the coloured one, I’m glad. It’s much more effective and evokes a 60s style paranoia very well while taking the edge off the CGI.

Like Spielberg had Quint on the boat, Darabont has Carmody in the store. Marcia Gay Harden’s marvellous performance in a stellar cast as a bonkers “vessel of God” causes far more trouble than the beasties. They’re only hunting while she whips ups the survivors to go to horrific depths. Thomas Jane also impresses as the everyman and convinces in the films final moments, possibly the most depressing you’ll ever see.

Actually it’s that ending that’s giving me trouble. Is it too strong? Some say it was only done to be shocking, but that’s rubbish because it makes sense. King’s novella ended ambiguously which wouldn’t have been right for the film, but he did allude to the possibility. If you accept a certain message that the film may have had from much earlier it works even better. But I don’t like that idea!

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It is a proper ending though to a proper horror and I haven’t felt so affected by a genre movie for a long time. I want to argue with people about it! So that right there is reason for a deserved classic status for this, possibly the best American horror for a generation. When did a director last punch his own audience in the guts so effectively?
« Last Edit: January 24, 2009, 01:35:01 PM by Jon »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2009, 07:20:16 PM »
I've not really like it when I've watched it last year and I've wrote why in this old thread. Maybe I should give it another go in B/W, but except to hide the too obvious cgi I don't think that my problems with this film will disapear.

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Najemikon

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 12:25:52 AM »
I just had a read through the other thread. I haven't re-opened it because I agree with Achim and it would only go over old ground. Except for...

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Have you ever played Half-Life? I wouldn't be surprised if the book was a loose inspiration. Did King allude to military experiments in his story? I know it wouldn't work, but I'd love them to make a Half-Life inspired sequel to this, with a guy (let's call him Gordon Freeman!) fighting to free key locations in a special hazard suit. He'd come across the scientists responsible and they'd try to help him, and then the soldiers would turn on him. At one point he would be armed only with a crowbar...  :laugh:

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2009, 01:41:23 AM »
I never really like the adaptation of the King's book, maybe I've a better movie in my head (usually my imagination doesn't use bad cgi or miscast characters). I've always said that his books doesn't pass the screen test, the only one that made the transition perfectly is Christine (but this is a very ordinary story). The problem is more that I've read them before...

But the one that made me the more angry was not even a King's story, it's a Dean Koontz novel : Phantoms. I was completly pissed off by the stupidity of the movie modifications ...

Never played Half-Life, I'm not really a big gamer (except for the console rpg or the strategic games like Civilization or Age of Empire).

The reason isn't really given, but a lot of references are made to the military experience made at the base. 

Najemikon

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2009, 01:43:26 AM »
Not even Shawshank? Although I seem to think we've discussed this before... :-X Otherwise I have to say most of the adaptations are pretty bad. Like I say, not keen on his writing though, so apart from Darabont's three, I do like Carrie. I think The Shining was overdone.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 01:45:02 AM by Jon »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2009, 01:56:28 AM »
Shawshank is a good movie (I like it), but not a perfect adaptation. I've never read Carrie, so I can't compare but I like the movie (the Brian DePalma's movie, not the unecessary tv remake) mostly because of the acting of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. The jump scare catch me everytime even if I know that it will happen  :laugh:

Najemikon

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2009, 02:02:51 AM »
Me too! Drink-lands-on-ceiling moment... :P

Offline Achim

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2009, 05:39:12 AM »
I just had a read through the other thread. I haven't re-opened it because I agree with Achim and it would only go over old ground. Except for...
I have not read through the old thread :bag: so I hope I won't repeat myself.

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Offline Dragonfire

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2009, 06:00:41 AM »
I watched this movie back in October I think and I'm still not sure what I think about it.  I did think that crazy religious woman was scarier than whatever was in the mist, especially once she started stirring up some of the others and talking about how violence was needed. 

I totally didn't see that ending coming and I didn't really care for it.  This ending shocked me more than any other I can think of that I've seen in the last few years..and it wasn't a good shock.  I remember thinking what the hell after the credits started..  :laugh:  It definitely wasn't anything I expected, though it did kind of seem like it was done just for the shock value.  But I haven't read the original story - I think it was a short story and not a book - so I have no clue if the ending was changed.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 06:15:10 AM »
I haven't read the original story - I think it was a short story and not a book.
You're right it's a short story in the second anthology of Stephen King (Skeleton Crew) published in 1985. But the story took a good part of the book.

Skeleton Crew

One of the short story that I really like in it is : "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut"

I think that this one could be make in a very good movie (even if I usually don't like King's movies adaptation)

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 06:34:03 AM »
I've only read 4 King books and I only liked 1 of them - The Shinning.  I hated Misery..I had to force myself to finish it, and I'm a person that can read a book in one sitting when I like it.  I can't remember the name of the one ...Bag of Bones maybe.  Didn't care much for it either, though I didn't hate it.  I started off liking Dreamcatcher, then the second half went to shit in my opinion and I ended up hating it.  I have liked some of the movies based on his books though.  I may try more of his books at some point..though not sure when.

Offline Achim

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 07:25:16 AM »
One of the short story that I really like in it is : "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut"

I think that this one could be make in a very good movie (even if I usually don't like King's movies adaptation)
I am not sure it would make a good movie, but it is definitely a great little short story with funny twist. It could be great in a shorter format though, like the Masters of Horror series (if that was still running) or similar.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 08:00:46 AM »
Can't be worst than "Maximum Overdrive" or "The Mangler" or "Sometimes They Come Back" who were made on movie (not very good) and are 3 very shorts story too.

But you're right it will be better in a short anthology form like Creepshow or Cat's eyes.

Najemikon

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 09:59:40 AM »
My mum loves books, but like me struggles with Stephen King. However, she really enjoyed Midnight. I think it was called that anyway! ::)

Offline Achim

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Re: The Mist *****
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 10:37:29 AM »
My mum loves books, but like me struggles with Stephen King. However, she really enjoyed Midnight. I think it was called that anyway! ::)
If you mean the book, then that's "Four Past Midnight". It's an anthology of 4 short novels. I own it, but bought it at the time just before I stopped reading King; although I read "Gerald's Game" later on, which was quite good and potentially could make a great film.