Classic Review – The Mist (2007)

the mist black and white

“There’s something in The Mist!”

The Mist

Directed by Frank Darabont

Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

Review by Jordan

What do you get when you throw a level-headed family man, his scared son, stubborn neighbour, a meek assistant supermarket manager, doomsday preaching religious zealot, slightly unhinged redneck, guilt-ridden army officer, deranged butcher, strong willed special needs teacher, desperate mother and a bunch of other terrified locals of a small American town into a glass-faced supermarket encompassed by a thick, eerie mist containing strange, deadly alien creatures that are every minute threatening to break through the cracked windows?

An unheralded masterwork of escalating tension and pulse-pounding drama that starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one called The Mist is what…

Best viewed on crisp blu-ray in gloriously realized black and white which emphasizes a sense of paranoia and realism in harking back to the creature features and startling news reports of the cold war era, directed by lifelong Stephen King fan and now television visionary Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead pilot – who also serves as writer and producer here) and starring a never-better Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea, The Punisher, Dreamcatcher… despite these titles he is a very good actor), The Mist flips the notion that humanity is at its best when things are at their worst on it’s head in an undeniably bleak fashion but through being made so superbly escapes any suspected genre trappings.

the mist black and white 2

David Drayton (Jane) comforts his son in one of the rare quiet moments

Darabont and cinematographer Rohn Schmidt capture the proceedings in an almost candid style, the camera always seeming to be in motion as if taking the viewpoint of another petrified survivor, but never does this grate in the manner that handheld filming often does because it so perfectly suits the mood of the story at play, and the screenplay expands upon King’s novella rather than trimming it like so many other adaptations, and includes an ending that almost instantly, and unfortunately, became the film’s main talking point. An exceptional ending it may be, but in being preceded by 120 minutes of moments often signifying human nature at its worst, it’s not the only exceptional thing here.

Then there’s the spiders… giant acidic web spinners whose lair a hapless few become trapped in while searching for medical supplies. For all arachnophobes such as myself this scene will be truly harrowing and spine-chilling, a cause for a sleepless night perhaps only rivalled by the evils perpetrated by Mrs. Carmody and her eventual menagerie of followers.

It should go without saying now that this is a powerful film, wonderfully made and deserving of far more recognition than it has garnered. Many critics labelled it one-dimensional both in plot and character development, but upon closer inspection this chaotic classic is as 3 dimensional as the very dimension the aliens in the mist traveled from.

4.5 tentacles out of 5

36 responses to “Classic Review – The Mist (2007)

  1. I really enjoyed “The Mist,” and I don’t remember it getting much love critically when it was released. As you said, the building tension is done masterfully, and the ending is unexpected but a perfect fit. Nice post.

    • No a lot of prominent critics really didn’t give it much of a go, probably fobbing it off before even watching it as just another small budget horror/sci-fi. Darabont had a vision and created something really special!
      Cheers, Jordan

  2. Oh yes I vividly remember this one..the creatures were just horrific, but no mercy for the religious woman – so irritating!ha
    The ending made me so mad, though!! 😀

    • Ha she deserved what was coming to her I think.. some of the things in this really shocked me!
      Me too! But in a good way… although it does make it hard to watch the second time (though I’ve certainly seen it a lot more than that now) knowing what happens..

  3. Such an good film and I love it even more and black and white! Mrs. Carmody is one of my favorite characters ever and to have Marica Gay Harden play her was perfect!

  4. Loved reading this, mostly because I love this movie! I’m just curious, coz I haven’t scoured any archives, but why is this qualified as a “classic”? It’s not even 10 years old. Also, why pick titles for Thomas Jane from quite a long time ago? If memory serves, hasn’t he done other things in the subsequent 10 years since “The Punisher”? Regardless, thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am thankful someone else enjoys this film as much as I!

    • Oh we’ve called many newer films than this classics also (A Prophet, The Woman, Kill List) because we don’t think they have to of existed for a certain amount of time to qualify… occasionally a film will grab you to the extent you realise it will remain exceptional going forward and is deserving of Classic status almost immediately. That’s just us though!
      I tried to pick Thomas Jane titles that he starred in, and that are fairly well known, plus I love Deep Blue Sea so any chance I get to spruke it I’ll make the most of!
      Glad you enjoyed the read, and the film! Looking forward to staying in touch on all things film!

    • Oh for sure! He’s a terrific director and constantly underrated, and this is a fantastic showcase of his skill with a small budget and short time-frame.

  5. While watching I almost stopped about midway through because of the common sense mistakes they characters were making (holding a light up in the dark when dealing with gigantic insects….) but I’m glad I hung in there! I was seriously disturbed by the ending, which I’m sure, is what Darabont was going for!

  6. The Mist my favorite horror film in the last 20 years. It seemed to be tailor made for me, hope in a bleak surrounding, non-fairy-tale ending, creatures and monsters, through-backs to 50’s sci-fi/horror, excellent characters… a King story written at his prime… I should probably just do my own review, but just wanted to agree whole-heartedly with your review 🙂

  7. Yes indeed guys…… underrated CLASSIC of the highest order. Loved the novella when I read it years ago and the film……….well……let’s just say it’s in the same class as the best horror film of all time…..The Night of the Living Dead! Has the same dread/no hope feeling all the way through and made on a very low budget as well. Relatively unknown cast to some, Marcia Gay Harden is just sensational as the religious nutter (shades of The Birds here too)! Thomas Jane, very, very, good……handles that emotionally heart-breaking finale with perfection. Stephen King okayed the different ending and it works like a charm.
    A masterpiece!

    • Well put! It just handles every element tremendously well, and the final product, as you said, is comparable to some of the best. Lets just hope in the future it finally gets the credit its due.

  8. It takes a lot of scare the beejezus out of me – and I love horror films, but for whatever reason The Mist did this in spades when I first saw it. (And I still have trouble watching them film even now). Like you addressed, tension is ratcheted up to the nenth degree, and the conclusion – instead of being a relief, hits the viewer with even great impact. Marcia Gay Harden gives a stellar performance, and Thomas Jane has never been better. It’s such a shame that critics panned this upon release, like you stated so eloquently, this film is deserving of far more recognition than it garnered. Great review!

  9. I hated most of this film. The religious zealot is unrealistic and one-note, one of King’s worst characters ever. The scenario is interesting, but seems sort of rote. But the ending is astounding–it deserved a far better movie to precede it. It’s one of the best horror film endings ever, far superior to the ‘bad thing isn’t really dead’ cliche.

    • Oh interesting thoughts! Definitely happy to have people disagree. Just the realization of what”s happened at the end makes you feel absolutely smashed emotionally the first time you watch it.. and even the second!

  10. One of my favorites, no blu-ray for me unfortunately but my special edition dvd does have the black and white version which is spectacular. This is one I try to watch every Halloween, a total gem.
    I don’t think a lot of the characters are supposed to be that realistic, referring to the comment above, which I know sounds weird but they were clearly symbolic of social structure, the religious zealot lady, she’s representing what people do when they abuse religion and come into power in the name of God and people have behaved just like her in history but on a much larger scale, she’s just the small-town, grocery store version and for me it worked.
    At the time this was released as a rental I was still working at Blockbuster, I remember an older man returning it to me and asking if I’d seen the ending. He said “Stephen King, that guys a real sicko”.

  11. I really really liked this movie. It’s not just a horror!! It blows my mind that King gets labeled as a “scary story” writer. He writes stories about people dealing with people. Darabont does wonders with this, much like Shawshank! Hello! One of the best movies ever! Why doesn’t Darabont get more work?! PS: loved the picture Jane is working on. Huge Gunslinger fan.

    • Ahh how good were the references there with the artwork?! Love seeing The Thing poster there too, one of the greatest film posters of all time in my opinion.
      Great point about King too, he does seem to deal with the human consequences of often horrific scenarios, not the horror itself.
      Darabont seems to have found a home in TV atm which is fine, but I do hope we see him making more feature films too.

  12. I’m pretty sure that Stephen King’s actual novella ended when they leave the town/supermarket and venture off into the “unknown new world”!
    Darabont wrote the ending that the film has. He ran it by King first and King loved the new ending and told Darabont to go ahead. He had King’s complete blessing for the new ending!

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