By Marty Mulrooney
With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to review a great little horror film called The Mist, which was released in 2007. Based on a Stephen King novella, and directed by long-time King collaborater Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), The Mist tells the somewhat deceptively simple tale of a father and his son, stuck in a supermarket with a bunch of strangers, in an even stranger mist.
[picapp src=”e/0/0/7/Fujifilm__Vault_6474.jpg?adImageId=6979273&imageId=4876710″ width=”500″ height=”336″ /] Author Stephen King with Director Frank Darabont at the premiere of The Mist in New York City, November 12th 2007.
David Drayton and his son Billy travel to their local supermarket after a wild thunderstorm has left their hometown in tatters the night before. When the whole world seems to suddenly be covered in the titular mist, they find they cannot leave. But perhaps out there with the monsters would be better than being inside with religious nut Mrs Carmondy and her rapidly increasing followers…
I don’t want to reveal too much, but suffice to say that, before long, people start disappearing. There are strange creatures in the mist that nobody can explain. In fact, many people are in flat out denial. But what I loved about the film was that, rather than having the monsters as the focus of the scares, the real terror comes from the desperate group mentality of the other survivors trapped in the supermarket.
The cast is stellar, with Thomas Jane surprising me quite a lot as David Drayton. I had previously only really seen him as The Punisher, yet here he flexes his acting chops and delivers a truly convincing portrayal of a decent man trying to protect his son amidst the madness around him. Marcia Gay Harden is terrifying as Mrs Carmondy, and the events surrounding her in turn led me to feel horror, disgust, terror and, in the end, extreme satisfaction. (People who have seen this will know what I mean!) What a fantastic actor!
The rest of the cast rocks as well, this really is a character driven film and for that I salute it. The little band of good-guys we end up with are great, and you will definitely be willing them to escape by the end. Rather than just throw boring monsters on-screen all the time, the real horror on display here is the human condition. Then, when the monsters DO show up, it kicks up a gear and the film is all the more entertaining and frightening for it.
Some of you may know actor Laurie Holden as the FBI agent working with Detective Vic Mackey in the final series of the TV show The Shield. Here, she plays a great supporting role as an almost surrogate mother for Bill Drayton, whose real mother (David Drayton’s wife) was still at the family home when the mist rolled in. She is a great actress and I enjoyed seeing her here as a strong female lead.
I mention The Shield connection for another reason as well. The camera crew from that show worked on this film, and it shows. Tight, claustrophobic and dirty, the camera work is perfect for this type of horror film. Because everything isn’t overly sharp, the effects merge better with the live-action as well, although they still betray a tighter budget than larger Hollywood productions would have.
Overall, The Mist delivers fantastically. It reminds me a lot of the way horror films used to be, before gore-porn ruined what was once a thoroughly entertaining genre. The ending will divide viewers, perhaps because it is so shocking. I loved it but I know some people won’t or may find it cheap. Regardless, I recommend you watch it yourself and find out. Hopefully you will agree with me!
Blu-ray extras (UK Edition)
- Feature Commentary by Writer/ Director Frank Darabont
- A conversation with Stephen King
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- When Darkness Came – Making of the Mist
- Taming the Beast: The Making of scene 35
- Monsters Among Us: The creature FX of The Mist
- The Horror of It All: The Visual FX of The Mist
- Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist
- Behind – the -scenes Webisodes
- Trailer Gallery
- B&W Feature
- Director Introduction
The best special feature here by far is the director’s commentary. It gives some really great insight into the many different aspects of the film and should satisfy any fan! Also, the rest of the special features are great and are all in high-definition! This is how Blu-rays should always be, rather than the worrying trend of just sticking the standard definition extras off the DVD release on to the Blu-ray.
The picture quality of the film itself is excellent, although it is not the best the format has to offer. This is no doubt due to the filming style and not a fault of the mastering process; you will still want to watch the film on Blu-ray to get the best viewing experience possible. It is very clear 90% of the time, and when it isn’t it works well anyway because the mist is supposed to be murky! This is an accurate representation of the director’s vision. The TrueHD audio should be a step up from the DVD as well, pleasing audiophiles and making this the definitive way to experience The Mist at home.
So why a 2-disk release if all the extras are on disk 1 you may ask? Well actually, disk 2 is one big extra. In fact, it is the best extra ever! Director Frank Darabont originally wanted the whole film in black and white, but ended up releasing it in colour for its cinema release (no doubt due to studio pressure). Well now, you can watch the whole film in black and white on disk 2! This may sound small, but it really isn’t. I saw the colour version in cinemas, then watched the black and white version on Blu-ray. The difference was extraordinary. Everything feels creepier, and the film aligns itself far more clearly with the classic horror films of old when viewed in the black and white format. It also helps makes the effects look a lot more realistic, and I could even go as far as to say that the B&W version on disk 2 looks better than the colour version on disk 1!
This film gets two thumbs up from me and I am not even a huge horror fan! The ending may divide some viewers, but it is still worth a watch and I can definitely recommend The Mist as perfect Halloween viewing!
9 OUT OF 10