My Favorite Films of the Last Decade #20

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.

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?

12 responses to “My Favorite Films of the Last Decade #20

  1. Ballsiest ending of the decade.

  2. Fine choice. I would say most depressing ending of the decade, but still very good indeed. I think what really fucks with me is I can’t figure out what the ending is trying to tell me because maybe I don’t want to know.

    I did not put it on my list because although everything you say is true, I don’t think it is quite as deep as you’re portraying it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie and think it one of the 3 best horror films of the decade. The ideas and themes are present and well executed.

    But I think the movie is much more of a really fucking cool monster flick first and foremost and the rest is just a nice topping. A few sprinkles of philosophy to separate it from the dreck that is the current state of horror films. They’re fucking tasty sprinkles, but not rich enough to crack my 20.

    Also, I really need to watch the B&W version. It might change my entire perspective on the thing, who knows.

  3. How did the novella end?

  4. Well, no need to read the novella now, thanks Mr. Spoiler. Now I know it has an ambiguous ending, what’s the point?

    • You weren’t going to read the novella anyway. And I gave nothing away. You can still read it. There are other things that are different from the movie. I didn’t say what the ambiguous ending is, just that it’s ambiguous.

  5. What if the ending was definitive? Well its not is it?

    Joking aside, the movie’s ending is cool cause it is definitive and slightly ambiguous at the same time

  6. Jane becomes a monster in the end in his own right. He gives up hope which is what seperated him from the zealots in the market.

    And Night of the Living Dead and Body Snatchers are both horror films with intelectual dabbles here and there. Who wants to see a fully philosophical horror movie? I believe it’s the balance of subtext and bite that makes horror films great.

  7. Pingback: Top Twenty Films of the Decade – Recap | Shooting the Script

  8. Pingback: Dark Night of the Soul: 24-Hours of Horror | Shooting the Script

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