Sunday, 19 April 2009

“The Mist”. A Review Of the 2009 Film by Frank Darabont.




“Don’t Go Out There! There’s Something In The… Ahhhhh!!!!!”

"The Mist" is another superb adaptation by Frank Darabont of a Stephen King story, but this time instead of redemption, Frank's going for terror - hoping to get you to soil your jockeys or at least nibble your fingernails more than you normally would. He achieves a bit of both actually in this terribly endearing Seventies-feel Sci-Fi schlock fest.

First up, Darabont cleverly doesn't go for big names in the lead roles - there are faces in there you'll recognize for sure (William Sadler and Jeffrey DeMunn - who were both in the mighty "Shawshank Redemption" for instance), but it's mostly actors you vaguely know or don't recognize at all. It has the effect of making their predicament more real - ordinary townsfolk locked into a battle for survival - where common sense quickly takes a back seat and bravery becomes a luxury few are willing to deploy...

Here how it goes - the Army's been experimenting up in the mountains (aren't they always) and have unleashed something nasty on our world (don't they always). As the 'mist' creeps in over a small US town after an unnatural storm, half the not-so-bright populace gets trapped in the local supermarket where it becomes quickly evident that it's probably not a good idea to go outside into the dense creeping fog, because people who do tend to either not come back or get eaten. Ropes that were attached to torsos - fall limp, there's a sound; a scream and someone's entrails end up on the potato chips stand...(thoughtless of them you have to say)...

All the usual elements are in place - the irritating stupid ones who do something they shouldn't and end up as fodder, the lying Army types covering their uniformed asses, the wise old ones who sacrifice for the young, the cowardly big talkers who then sit in corners and whinge - the women who are ballsier and brainier than the men - all manner of parents who are just trying to protect their families...the resourcefulness and guts of those who do fight back and win...

Darabont also cleverly ratchets up the tension by having no music for ages so that when the sinister synth drone does kick in - it really kicks in - and when the wailing vocals of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance on "The Host of Seraphim" comes in towards the end - it has the emotional impact of a fist in the face. It's on an album called (not surprisingly) "The Serpent's Egg"...

Toby Jones is superb as the grounded Supermarket owner, Thomas Jane as the father who must keep safe his son at all costs and Andre Braugher as his difficult neighbour who doesn't buy into the hysteria and conspiracy theories and pays the webbed price.

But the film belongs to Marcia Gay Harden who is stunningly effective as the town's religious zealot who seizes her it's-the-wrath-of-God moment with non-stop apocalyptical-jabbering. Of course after two days of ranting about sins and the End of the World and her being God's conduit, she begins to make twisted sense to the terrified folks desperate to placate the beasties outside. Enter the inevitable Lord Of The Flies scenario - a sacrifice must be made...

There's something terribly old-fashioned about The Mist. It wants to frighten the G-string further up the crack in your girlfriend's bum - and it does this on several occasions with genuinely squeamish aplomb. Coming over a bit like an Irwin Allen Seventies epic, The Mist is basically a very, very good B-movie.

For Blu Ray owners - the special effect creatures are Jurassic Park meets Alien meets the bug scene in King Kong - creepy, scary and deliciously icky. The Blu Ray images are really clean and crisp and even when huge things lurk over cars in a blurry haze, you still see their monstrous outlines and 'feel' their size as the pumped-up audio does its thing.

By the time the unexpected and staggeringly downbeat ending finally comes - you know someone has done their job right, because you've been rightly and royally entertained. And more importantly - you've rooted for these people - so much so that you end up thinking about them and their decisions - days later...

Recommended.

PS: the USA version is a 2-disc set

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