Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Mist

The Mist; Horror, USA, 2007; D: Frank Darabont, S: Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Nathan Gamble, Toby Jones, Marcia Gay Harden

Just as David was painting a poster of the film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", a storm caused a tree to crash on his house and destroy his work. He, his son Billy and Brent, his neighbor who filled a lawsuit against him, all drive to the local grocery store to get some food. Just then, a siren is heard and a strange fog surrounds the store, trapping some 50 people who were shopping there. They soon find out that mysterious monsters are hiding in the fog - when a defiant Brent and some other people leave the store, they are killed. Mrs. Carmod, a religious fanatic, taunts everyone by claiming to know about the Armageddon, while people become paranoid and edgy. David, Billy, Amanda and a few others manage to run out to their car and drive off to find an exit from the fog. After they run out of gas, David shoots them to spare them the misery. But to his horror, just then the fog clears and the army shows up.

"The Mist" is one of those rare kind of intelligent psychological horrors that had potential to turn out great, but the typical mistakes for that genre and some ill-considered decisions bloated the final result considerably. Actually, the first third of the film is excellent - just like in Carpenter's horror "The Fog", Darabont's "The Mist" masterfully exploits the scary cloudy phenomenon for creating a chilling-esoteric mood: as the mysterious fog surrounds a store and traps some 50 people inside, it slowly starts building suspense and quality character development. The fascinating thing is that in the first 40-50 minutes we see the monsters only once, for only 1-2 minutes, and not even entirely, since it shows a couple of tentacles emerging from the fog and dragging a bag-boy from the store, but that was enough to crystallize the mood. For instance, the wise guy who told him to go outside and clean the generator, had the biggest mouth, but when the tentacle grabbed the bag-boy, he was the biggest coward and didn't move a finger to help him, while the protagonist David, who was against it, was the first to jump and try to help him. Such a display of hypocrisy and human stupidity that only makes a problem worse works very well at first in "The Mist". Unfortunately, instead of continuing with that tactic, the story looses the Hitchcockian mood in the second third, when two dragons catching some giant insects crash into the store and create chaos - from there on, the monsters turn out too trashy, the explanation for the situation is too outlandish while the horror cliche of violence and gore is also displayed. In the last third, only the brilliant Marcia Gay Harden manages to shine as the religious fanatic who taunts the people with her Armageddon Bible "knowledge", only indulging in being right and never to help anyone, yet the hyped (tragic) ending is overrated, failing to bring a clear point of what it wanted to say.


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