The Horror Honeys: The Mist: The Virtue of Patience

The Mist: The Virtue of Patience

A Monster Honey Review by Sarah

The Mist (2007)

You really learn a lot about people from how they respond to a crisis. Some step-up and try to do what’s best, some get scared and will follow along with the group, and others will just straight up go coocoo for coacoa puffs. That’s the focus here of Frank Darabont’s adaptation of buddy Stephen King’s novella, The Mist, about a group of people who come under attack from strange creatures whilst hiding in a supermarket after a mysterious mist (duh) envelops the town. 

Adaptations of Sephen King’s work have been a little hit or miss, but this is one I would put firmly in the hit camp for the most part. There is a tension and atmosphere to everything as the people, particularly Thomas Jane’s David and his young son Billy, tries to figure out what’s going on and what to do. Some of the best parts of the film don’t even include the creatures, they’re just moments of characters talking and trying to work things out and the reason that works is because for the most part they are all genuine, normal, people. And even though Marcia Gay Harden’s Mrs Carmody is overtly ridiculous, as the situation gets more extreme and dire, that ridiculousness starts to become more logical to people in their fear and then as more of them start listening to her she goes from being laughable to the most threatening element for the other characters. Even the good guys aren’t immune to stupid behaviour though, because seriously how the heck didn’t they notice that the pharmacy was covered in spider webs until the last second? Worst apocalypse team ever.

The film is also a bit like a dry run for Darabont’s time on The Walking Dead, and I don’t just mean the five or six actors from this he cast in the show. It’s a similar flavour, with the focus on a small group and their survival and there are times when other people are more of an issue than the creatures they’re trying to fight back against. He also uses a lot of the same close camera angles and rough zooms that are particularly in The Walking Dead’s pilot, AKA one of the greatest pieces of television ever. 

It's always the quiet ones... always.
My biggest complaint about the film is definitely the special effects, and I feel terrible saying this because I know that this was done on a relatively low budget, but they just look really cheap and awkward. The worst offender is probably the tentacles that kill the poor bag boy. I just think practical effects, which there are a couple of, look so much better. It is something that you need to look past, but I think that it is possible to do when so much of the rest of the film works fine.

My favourite character in the film is easily the little old lady. She’s sweet and soft spoken, but when the situation requires it, she’ll bust out a lighter and bug spray flamethrower to take on spider creatures while everyone else is freaking out. She also throws canned food at the crazy lady, which I’m always in favour of.

I did also watch the black and white version of the film, which is Darabont’s preferred version as it creates something closer to the B-movies and episodes of The Twilight Zone that were big inspirations. It definitely does give it something of that kind of atmosphere, putting you in the mindset of watching a throwback to a time when drive-in movie theatres were a thing. Watching this version also makes the special effects look a bit better, but only slightly.

Noooooo! He only had one day left 'til retirement!
Of course the thing people really talk about with this film is the ending. There is no denying that it’s ballsy. Child death, particularly in mainstream cinema, is something of a no-no; considered to be far too upsetting a topic. And killing a child along with three other people who up until this point have been able to survive everything the situation has thrown at them, when rescue was so close is quite the emotional gut punch; especially when David survives and has to live with the knowledge. It’s a devastating ending, but does that really make it a good one? I get that this is a darker take on the little story twist endings of stuff like The Twilight Zone, but when you think about it it’s also a little cheap that they were SO CLOSE and just a few more moments would have meant everyone was safe. I suppose I just would have preferred the original ambiguous ending of the novella and that way those people who prefer their endings on a down note can read it that way and those of us who like a little hope can have it. 

I don't think "speak softly and carry a big stick" is going to
work in this case...

The Verdict: Wherever you fall on the optimism/pessimism scale, The Mist is worth watching for the atmosphere and gets 3 and a half home-made flamethrowers out of 5

The Mist is available via iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD

What do YOU think of The Mist? Best ending or worst?