Ollie: As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?
Adam’s #20. The Mist (2007) – Dir. Frank Darabont
The Mist surprised me. I hadn’t heard anything about it before it came out. I was home for Thanksgiving, someone told me about it, I finished my rounds of Thanksgiving dinners early, and unlike drinking in a bar alone, I have no problem going to the movies by myself, so I gave it a shot. I was not disappointed. And what better way to spend Thanksgiving than watching an apocalyptic monster movie that examines the nature of fear of the unknown and its ability to make monsters of us all?
Frank Darabont’s pitch-perfect adaptation of Stephen King’s novella tells the story of a group of townspeople taking refuge in a supermarket when an ominous mist consumes their quiet New England hamlet, unleashing an unearthly horde of creatures to prey upon those unfortunate enough to get caught outside.
But, it’s so much more than a monster movie. It also offers a wonderful commentary on the powerful sway fear can have over people and how quickly that fear can send them into the mouth of madness, a theme stated very clearly in the scene involving some of the more rational members of the group discussing what they’re going to do about the more radical doomsayers:
Amanda Dunfrey: …People are basically good; decent. My god, David, we’re a civilized society.
David Drayton: Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them – no more rules.
Of course, bolstering this great story is the stellar cast, including Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, and William Sadler, all of whom deliver fine performances. Some of the standouts include Jane’s everyman David Drayton, who winds up becoming one of the group’s rational leaders while trying to protect his son and get home to his wife. Also, Harden’s portrayal of Mrs. Carmody, the town zealot and would-be spiritual leader who becomes the radical Armageddon-prophesying counterpoint to Drayton, is particularly unsettling.
This film is most definitely one of my favorites of the last decade, and the only reason it’s not higher on the list is it’s not exactly the cheeriest film I’ve seen. You definitely have to be in the mood for something dark and a little disturbing. But, apart from being a bit bleak, I can’t say enough good things about this film. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. And be sure to watch the black & white version. As much as I liked the color version in theaters, the black & white version is what sealed The Mist‘s place in my top twenty. The black & white invokes the classic monster movies of the 60s (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead, etc) and paired with the frenetic, hand-held, two-camera shooting style it gives the film a documentary feel reminiscent of old newsreel footage of sit-ins in the south during the civil rights movement. It was brilliant idea on Darabont’s part, and it’s a shame the studio didn’t release it in theaters in black & white.
All around, The Mist is a great film. You should definitely check it out. I still can’t believe the ending, an ending so good, so shocking, that Stephen King said he wished it was how he ended the novella. See it.