If you’re going to watch a Stephen King story come to life on the big screen, cross your fingers Frank Darabont is the man at the helm. Darabont is the man responsible for the greatest King transfers to date (of this there is no debate, just watch The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile), and The Mist is just the latest quality offering from the talented director.
The story itself - one of King’s more emotional efforts – centers on a strange invasion; massive prehistoric (appearing) creatures roll into a small rural town, masked by an ominous mist that makes John Carpenter’s Fog seem like a miniscule weather oddity. Of course the unsuspecting inhabitants of Bridgeton, Maine never suspect what this eerie mist envelopes, but they’re about to learn the harsh realities of the unrealistic.
After an outlandish storm destroys a decent chunk of the town, patrons rush for the local grocery store, eager to stock up on all the necessities that come along with devastating weather. Once inside the crowded store however, things take an immediate turn for the worse.
“There’s something in the mist!” Announces a local, as he rushes into the grocery store, a frantic mess. Most inside are rational enough to accept this warning as a truth, but of course there wouldn’t be much friction without a few doubters. And those doubters act as the pictures deepest conflict igniters. They set the store’s segregation in motion, and the invisible partitions that separate these individuals become equally as horrific as the hungry creatures that linger outside.
As these hideous creatures and overgrown insects force their way into the store, the panic level escalates at a very realistically startling rate; these people are losing it, and rightfully so. Acting as a natural leader, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) attempts to use logic to survive the event, keep his son alive, and maintain some form of order in the process. On the opposing side of the spectrum is Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), an overzealous Bible-thumper who’s reached the decision to act as God’s voice, albeit an extremely savage and convoluted voice.
Before long, Mrs. Carmody has built a congregation of eager lynch-mobbers, all convinced that human sacrifices must be made in order to survive the attack. Things get particularly disturbing at this point, and for the sake of those who haven’t seen the movie, I’ll refrain from disclosing too many details; believe me, it is better seen than read (unless we’re talking about King’s actual novella).
In the end, David and a small handful of survivors choose to attempt escape. The logic of course is simple: better to die trying than waiting. This last ditch effort however leads to an extremely harrowing finale. It’s been quite some time since I read the story, but I believe King’s original conclusion differs from Darabont’s vision (though I wouldn’t quote me on that), but it’s a gut-wrenching climax all the same.
What makes The Mist such an electrifying film is the level of character development squeezed into a fast-paced picture. There is virtually zero downtime during the flicks full 126 minutes running time, and to be able to flesh out as many characters, as thoroughly as Darabont does is damn near unfathomable.
Just the same, Frank and the cast and crew come together to achieve complete cohesion, and it’s a wonder to behold. Thomas Jane provides one of the very best performances of his career, Laurie Holden is remarkably sympathetic, Andre Braugher takes paranoia to a shocking level of realism, but Marcia Gay Harden is the show stealer, without a doubt. If you don’t loathe Mrs. Carmody by the time the credits roll, you somehow fell asleep during a fantastic feature.
Frank Darabont brings Stephen King's terrifying tale of invasion to startling life. The conflicts of man are explored as thoroughly as those of the otherworldly, and the combination makes for one of the more memorable horror films to land on earth in years.