Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Thomas Jane, Nathan Gamble, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Alexa Davalos, Sam Witwer, Frances Sternhagen, Chris Owen
Release date: November 21, 2007
The early monsters of the movies were lovelorn, lonely creatures, misunderstood by society (Frankenstein, the Wolf Man), victims of their own ambition (The Fly, The Invisible Man) or, sometimes, inexplicable “things” hellbent on creating chaos (The Blob). Regardless the form they took, cinema’s creature creations have most effectively been a tool for unmasking societal, scientific, and political taboos while entertaining and, of course, eliciting screams.
Originating in Stephen King’s powerful novella, and brought to life by director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Walking Dead), the varied forms of unnameable beasts that lay siege to a small town in The Mist are surprisingly less scary than their intended victims.
On a mission to store up on essentials after a violent storm, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble), and his neighbor, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) join the throngs of people snatching up supplies at the local supermarket. Within moments, the dense fog approaches, the sirens wails, and a bloodied old man (Walking Dead’s Jeffrey DeMunn) bursts into the market warning that, “There's something in the mist!”
The presence of monsters on the periphery of the frame keeps the story and the tension airtight, purposely claustrophobic. As the mist encroaches and the doors are locked, trapping the panicked shoppers in their own fishbowl, they begin to form factions, doubting each other's intentions and unmasking themselves as walking metaphors for the worst aspects of humanity: jealousy, prejudice, ignorance, and plain stupidity.
It’s hard not to draw parallels to the equally excellent Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," in which a community turns on itself when unable to explain freakish occurrences in the quaint neighborhood. Darabont keeps the focus of the film close to the paranoid sensibility of the '50s nuclear panic and Red Scare, and the thrill of the same decade’s B-movies; and uses it all to bare the mistakes of playing god on a governmental, religious, social and, in a heartbreaking twist, personal level.
We all remember the monsters of old. We scream their names, re-watch their films and wear T-shirts with their images screen-printed in ghoulish color. In The Mist, we are the monsters and there is truthfully nothing more terrifying. —Jonathan Lees