Saturday, 11 June 2011

Review - The Mist (2007 - Dir. Frank Darabont)

I read the Stephen King novella The Mist about 20 years ago and really wanted to see it as a film. A good film. Not the rubbish, overblown translation that you usually get.

Frank Darabont has done the business and has faithfully put The Mist on screen. In fact, he's actually improved on it. He's taken the source material seriously, no tongue-in-cheek business here, and shot it with handheld cameras. One thing that stands out on the Blu-ray is the gorgeous depth of field effects. It might be worth pointing out that I watched the black and white version. Both are great, but the black and white is more atmospheric and B-movieish. 

The central premise of the story is simple; David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his son (convincingly played by Nathan Gamble) go shopping. A mist descends and people start to disappear. And die. It starts off like any standard issue B-movie. Then towards the end the tone gets darker and then bleaker. The ending is one of the bleakest I've seen. I'm glad they went for it though, it would have been weaker without it.

The Blu-ray makes the photography look gorgeous but it also shows up some of the CGI effects. DVD smoothes over some of the rough edges and blends elements together, so the effects actually look better on DVD. One of the best effects is achieved with just a length of thin rope. It's amazing how cheap, yet effective some effects can be when used creatively.

The main problem, and it's not a major one, is Thomas Jane's acting. Generally okay but dodgy in parts. I'm still not sure about the end sequence where he is a tad distraught. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The film deals with similar themes to F. Paul Wilson's Nightworld. What happens when the world is ending? How do people react? Do the rules that you lived by still apply? One of the characters (played by Laurie Holden; spot the Silent Hill link there?) thinks that people are generally good and the others are being cynical. The film opts for the cynical approach in quite a hard to watch scene. You can imagine it happening though.

A special mention has to go to the music choice for the end sequence. The Host of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance was originally put in as a temp track but was so great they got the rights to use it. Glad they did. It makes the end of the film and fits it so well tonally. 

Watch this if you fancy a fairly intelligent B-movie that's atmospheric with some great Lovecraftian creatures (one's a whopper!). People who crave a happy ending - don't bother.

If you like this you could also try:
Silent Hill, The Fog, The Road, Shuttle.

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