The Mist

In 1987, I picked up a copy of the new Stephen King novel, Skeleton Crew, a collection of short stories that were amongst the best short stories the author has ever written. The first story in the collection was a novella entitled The Mist and I was captivated by the engrossing stories, characters, and supernatural situations depicted.

As I moved on to other books and films, I never forgot the impact of the story, and for years wondered why nobody had attempted to bring the story to the screen. A few years later, I heard rumblings of an attempt to make a film version of the story with Michael J. Fox being listed as the intended lead.

While this never came to be, Frank Darabont who masterfully adapted King’s “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption”, into solid films, took up the task of writing and directing “The Mist” and has done a solid job of translating the master story for the screen.

The film stars Thomas Jane as David Drayton, a movie poster artist who lives in a quiet Maine town in a nice house overlooking the water with his wife and son Billy (Nathan Gamble). The morning after a freak storm lays waste to the surrounding area, Frank and Billy set out for the store with their estranged neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher).

When they arrive at the store, they find it packed with people who are trying to stock up on supplies following the storm. With the power, phones, and cell service being out, and military forces being deployed all around them, the town is in a state of chaos.

A man marked with blood suddenly emerges from an expanding mist that has formed over the town and claims that something in this mist has taken his friend. This event is punctuated with a warning siren that has started to sound, which leads the people in the store to lock the doors and seek shelter in the store.

Frank attempts to tell the people that there was something scraping against the back loading door, but his concerns are ignored with tragic results. Since this event was witnessed by only a small group of people, the residents trapped in the store quickly give in to their fears and star to accuse Frank of fabricating the situation, and locale crackpot Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), and blames their situation on Judgment Day and starts to convert people to her radical beliefs.

Things get even worse when creatures from the mist get into the store and attack the people which forces Frank and company to take a risky trip to the neighboring drug store in an attempt to gain much needed medical supplies.

In short order the situation gets even worse as Frank and his supporters are faced to contend not only with the creatures in the mist, but the growing threat from Mrs. Carmody and her fanatics who have adapted a mob mentality towards anyone they think is a non-believer.

What follows is a thrilling series of events that leads to one of the most shocking and memorable finale acts that will stay with you long after the film has ended.

There has been much made of the decision to add a proper ending to the story instead of the nebulous ending in the story where nothing was truly resolved. I think this decision was wise, as being a fan of the story; I was a bit frustrated that there was not final outcome in the story and I was left with more questions than answers when the story ended.

Darabont has crafted a finale that is sure to upset some people and please others, but credit has to be given for crafting an ending that does not take the standard Hollywood outs.

The cast is strong, and the FX and Gore are restrained to the point that they do not overshadow what is essentially a drama about people in an extra-ordinary situation, and what happens when the rules and creature comforts of society collapse.

While the film will not break new ground in the horror genre, it is one of the best adaptation of a King story, and is very entertaining.

4 stars out of 5