Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Film Review: The Mist (2007)

Directed by: Frank Darabont Written by: Frank Darabont (Screen Play) and Stephen King (Novel)

Review by: Chris Ward

I can remember a time when a movie that stated 'From Stephen King' would be greeted with anticipation and excitement. Unfortunately nowadays, this is rarely the case. When I was presented with this dvd to watch my first thought was ‘Oh well, if there's nothing else on TV, I'll give it a go’. This isn't to say that Stephen King stories are awful - because they're not - but, with only one or two exceptions, they don't translate to the screen all that well.
Anyway, a quick rundown of the plot --- A small town in America is overcome by a mysterious fog, out of which bug-like creatures appear and kill the locals. A small group of innocent shoppers are stranded in the local supermarket and have to overcome their fears, plus internal power struggles, to escape.

All sounds fine, if a little clich├ęd. To be honest, the movie started to drag in the middle. It starts well, establishing characters - the 'hero' David Drayton, his young son Billy, their neighbour Mr. Horton - and setting the scene for what follows. The three main characters all go to the local supermarket to get supplies after a storm has battered their properties. All well and good ---Then the movie starts borrowing from George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'Dawn of the Dead'. People trapped in a shopping mall, unable to go outside, mysterious monsters lurking in the gloom, a power struggle between Drayton and Horton, another power struggle between Drayton and the local religious nut. Then we get the 'Return of the Living Dead' 'Army trying to develop new weapons...' plotline to explain how the monsters came to be.

It's only when we get to the end, when Horton and a few others escape, that the movie starts to pick up pace and offer some genuine tension. I won't reveal the ending but for those who aren't expecting it, it's a bit of a shocker and one of those genuine 'what would I do if that was me?' moments. Without blowing my own trumpet, I predicted the ending about ten minutes before it happened. After saying it out loud, I was promptly told by my co-watcher that 'That wouldn't happen', and lo and behold...

Overall, 'The Mist' is an average movie with a cracking ending, designed to really make you think. The acting is so-so, the script lame and inconsistent - William Sadler's character announces that he's not a religious man, and a couple of minutes later saying prayers and lambasting non-believers, and this is before he's under the spell of the local nutter - and the special effects not amazing. With obvious comparisons to the aforementioned zombie movies, plus other chillers like 'The Fog', it's hardly what you would call original either.
On the plus side, for those who aren't too familiar with other genre movies and those who don't analyze movies too carefully, it's an okay way to kill two hours. And that ending will get you...


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