My History With the Film:
I don’t remember the first time I watched The Mist, but it had to be around 2008 or so. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the film other than it starred Thomas Jane and was based on a Stephen King novella. A couple hours later, I sat with my mouth agape and realized I had just witnessed something amazing. It was a powerful film that went beyond “monsters in the mist.”
My most recent re-watch occurred this past weekend, following Hurricane Florence’s attack on North Carolina. I was lucky and retained power all weekend, and when I started thinking of films to watch The Mist came to mind immediately. A few months ago, I purchased a copy of the black and white director’s cut on Vudu, and this seemed like the perfect time to give it a watch.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Following a bad storm, a sinister mist rolls into a small Maine town and terrorizes a group of civilians hiding out in a grocery store.
What I Liked About It:
-The Ending. You’ll get no spoilers from me on this one, but the ending is incredible.
-The film plays out like a Twilight Zone episode in some parts. There is a lot of analysis on how people react when scared and under pressure, and this film doesn’t shy away from showing it in all it’s terrible glory.
-The cast is wonderful. Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River), Andre Braugher (Frequency), William Sadler (Disturbing Behavior), and pretty much a casting call for The Walking Dead with Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Juan Gabriel pareja, Cheri Dvorak, Sam Witwer, and Tiffany Morgan.
-Every character is rounded out enough that you feel a connection to them. I’m not saying that every death is impactful, but you never feel like the movie is just offering up nameless bodies to The Mist.
-Horror films get a lot of flack for having some terrible acting (rightfully so in a lot of cases) but this film is an exception. The performances all around are pretty wonderful with no major weak links coming to mind.
-The music is subtle, but fits well. I really noticed it while wearing headphones and came to appreciate it.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The CG was below average in 2007 and of course only looks worse in 2018. Every time I see something in CGI, I’m reminded of the Gravelings in Dead Like Me, a TV show from 2003, which is not a good thing. Luckily, if you watch the film in the black and white edition (which I recommend), it helps mask some of the cheesier aspects of the CGI.
-The pacing is a little strange in The Mist and it feels like a much longer movie than it actually is. I’m not saying the pacing is bad, but it’s not your standard three act story, so you have be prepared for the storytelling to come and go in waves.
-This was writer/director Frank Darabont’s third Stephen King adaptation after The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
-The opening scene shows David (Thomas Jane) painting The Gunslinger from The Dark Tower.
-To save time on the tight schedule, Frank Darabont hired the camera crew from the TV show The Shield to shoot the film. They were used to moving on a fast paced, hectic TV schedule.
-Frank Darabont had imagined the ending for twenty years and wanted to make his version of The Mist. He turned down $30 million dollars to make this film with a modified ending. Instead, he made the movie for half the amount and forfeited his directorial salary.
-Frank Darabont originally wanted Thomas Jane to play Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead after shooting this film with him.
-Thomas Jane’s third Stephen King movie, the other two being Dreamcatcher and 1922.
-William Sadler portrayed David Drayton in the audio drama version of The Mist. He was also in two Stephen King adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
-Frances Sternhagen’s third appearance in a Stephen King film, the first two being: Misery and Golden Years.
I loved The Mist the first time I saw it and I think I love it just as much now. I love a good isolation story and it’s even better when grounded in something I can relate to like a grocery store. It’s not difficult to watch The Mist and see how it laid some of the groundwork for the first season or two of The Walking Dead. The story feels real and the actual conflict isn’t so much The Mist as it is the other people around you, which is a topic I never tire of seeing discussed whether it’s in the before mentioned Walking Dead or The Monsters on Maple Street episode of The Twilight Zone.
I do recommend watching it in black and white if you are willing to, and would rate the film a solid four out of five.