out of Five
Running time: 126
Superbly written, genuinely creepy and occasionally terrifying horror flick with strong performances and some impressive effects work.
What's it all about?
Adapted from a Stephen King novel by writer-director Frank Darabont, The Mist stars Thomas Jane as Dave, a local artist who heads into town for supplies with his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) after a storm smashes one of his windows. However, whilst they're in the supermarket, a mysterious and deadly mist descends on the town, trapping them in the store along with various locals.
When Dave discovers that the mist is hiding some bizarre, otherworldly creatures, he has his work cut out trying to convince the locals - especially his grumpy neighbour (Andre Braugher) and religious nutcase Mrs Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden). However, as the townsfolk become increasingly panicked, they start listening to Mrs Carmody's end-of-days preaching and soon it's hard to know which is scarier: the creatures outside or the people inside.
The performances are excellent, to the point where these characters feel like real townsfolk rather than the usual collection of horror movie cliches. Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden are the stand-outs, but there's strong work from Toby Jones as the nervous manager, Laurie Holden as the level-headed teacher and Alexa Davalos as a pretty checkout girl who has an ill-advised fumble with Private Jessup (Sam Witwer), one of three secretive military men also trapped in the store.
Darabont orchestrates some terrific sequences, with the aid of some great special effects work – the first attack is weird, unsettling and unexpected, whilst a trip into the next-door pharmacy for medical supplies becomes downright terrifying. Darabont also brilliantly handles the crowd's gradual and disturbing descent into mob mentality.
The script is generally excellent, although it does overdo the whole supermarket-as-microcosm-of-America bit occasionally, especially when Mrs Carmody starts yelling about stem cell research. However, Darabont deserves praise for the film's brilliant Twilight Zone style ending.
This is a well written, brilliantly acted supernatural horror flick that's both gripping and terrifying. Highly recommended.