Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Mist

Following a violent thunderstorm, artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son Billy (Nathan Gamble) are among a large group of terrified townspeople trapped in a local grocery store by a strange, otherworldly mist. Local rumors point to an experiment called the 'The Arrowhead Project' conducted at a nearby top-secret military base, but questions as to the origins of the deadly vapor are secondary to the group's overall chances for survival. David is the first to realize that there are things lurking in the mist...deadly, horrifying things...creatures not of this world. Survival depends on everybody in the store pulling together...but is that possible, given human nature?

As reason crumbles in the face of fear and panic, David begins to wonder what is more terrifying: the monsters in the mist—or the ones inside the store, the human kind, the people that until now had been his friends and neighbors?

Full Disclosure: Huge fan of this particular story. I'm sure I've read it no less than ten times, which means I really had my hopes up going into this flick and was feeling pretty confident considering Frank Darabont's past track record with Stephen King material.

I was not disappointed.

Well, maybe a little, but I'll get to that.

The movie handles the story in a very straight forward manner opening with the intense storm and the introduction of David Drayton, his family, their next door neighbor, Brent Norton, and the animosity between David and Brent. Things move right along to the grocery store, the cast of unique characters of the quaint town and the abrupt arrival of the dense mist. Once the mist has cut visibility to six feet and the store patrons began to fear what may be lurking just beyond their field of vision, the story really begins to blossom. By the time things begin to seen, the real horror has already started to take shape. Thomas Jane, a veteran of Dreamcatcher, another Stephen King based movie, is very convincing as a man trying to deal with an intense situation while simultaneously looking out for his son as he fears for his wife who stayed home, alone.

However, the real star of this film is the breakdown of sensibilities and how accurately they are portrayed. Certain aspects make it perfectly clear how religion steeped in fear could have controlled society for hundreds of years and no character brings that to light better than Mrs. Carmody, played chillingly by Marcia Gay Harden. The character of Mrs. Carmody along with perfectly portrayed 'average people' truly make this a movie worth seeing if only because of it's microcosm display of how seemingly normal, every-day people can be coerced to put aside rational thought and partake in stupid affairs such as burning books and music or condemning scientific endeavors simply because they don't fit in line with something taught in Sunday School. I really had a difficult time deciding which monsters were the most terrifying.

Now, my only disappointment - without giving anything away: They changed the ending and I still haven't decided if I liked it or not. Just so you know, if you haven't read the story, the original ending was one of unknown - a classic 'Alfred Hitchcock' moment that could just as easily contain disaster as much as it could contain salvation. In fact, the end of the story often reminded me of the end of "The Birds" when Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, the rest of the family and those evil love birds pile into the car and drive off into the unknown surrounded by thousands of calm, for the moment, birds. The end and answers were left to your own imagination. That's how Stephen King's story ended. That's not how the movie ends. To be fair, had I not read the story multiple times, I'm sure I would have really been pleased with the end of the movie and I have a sneaking suspicion that, given several viewings, I'll learn to appreciate this movie as it's own entity. I base that notion on another book to movie example: The Bourne Identity. The Bourne movie (and the subsequent films) had next to nothing to do with the book and, at first, I was not a fan of the movie in any way shape or form but, priding myself on my ability to see things from various points of view, I watched the film again and slowly I began to separate the two the appreciate the film for an original story using the book as source material. Since then, I've become huge fans of all three Bourne movies while remaining true to my original fondness for the books. In a way, I've been able to enjoy six Bourne adventures instead of only three. It is with this in mind that I look forward to seeing The Mist again and possibly benefiting from two versions rather than one.

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