Written by: John Edward Betancourt
There is a great battle that still rages on in film; the book versus the movie. It's a valid struggle, as since we have all sat down and enjoyed an incredible novel one time or another, only to have it play out in horrible fashion on the big screen. As the years progress, it seems the growing opinion is that the book will always win out, with its unique ability to capture our imagination in ways that film simply cannot.
For one such author, it has been a mixed bag of results when it comes to movie adaptations of his work. There have been about as many winners as there have been losers. Of course, I'm talking about Stephen King. For every Graveyard Shift there is a Misery. Or for every Thinner there is an It. It seems that King's work on film will either be an utter disaster or a critical and box office darling.
But out of all of Stephen King's work, only one director has actually managed to bring about quality and spot on adaptations of his stories, and has been able to make them as captivating as they are on the page. That man, is Frank Darabont and his gorgeous adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile garnered him a well deserved reputation in the film industry. But Darabont is a student of horror, having cut his teeth on 1988's remake of The Blob, and it seems only fitting that he felt the need to take on a lesser known scary Stephen King short story; The Mist.
A violent thunderstorm disrupts life for the citizens of Bridgton, Maine. The power is out, trees have been uprooted and an odd mist hangs over the lake. None of these things seem to phase David Drayton who heads into town to pick up food and any necessary supplies to clean up the mess. But while inside the grocery store, the mist appears once again, and covers the town. But this seemingly harmless mist is anything but since there are living creatures in the mist and their existence is revealed to David when one of the refugees is torn apart by the shadows just beyond. But what waits for them outside, is nothing compared to the human monsters that are beginning to show themselves from within the safety of the store.
Simply put, Darabont absolutely strikes gold with this film. It is intense, gory and unmercifully brutal. The creatures truly look other-wordly, thanks to the fine work of KNB EFX studios and make you squirm in your seat when they appear on screen.
The acting shines with excellent performances from Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher and Marcia Gay Harden. In fact you'll even find some Walking Dead alumni in Jeffrey DeMunn and Laurie Holden. But while we are treated to a fine ensemble cast, the true wonder of this film is the sheer horror that it portrays on screen.
Every frame of this film from the moment the mist arrives in front of the store, boils with intensity. At no point are you left comfortable again. From the things that roam outside to the evil building within, this is a movie that not only takes you on an emotional roller coaster, it also leaves you deeply disturbed with the decisions the characters make. At times you may see it coming, but that doesn't prepare you for the raw disgust you will feel at witnessing good people turn into something so despicable.
Take all of that and throw in a devastating ending and you leave the theater or turn off your Blu-ray player feeling utterly defeated and wondering what you need to do to raise your spirits up if only for a moment. Why praise such a film? Because this is unadulterated horror. The genre has never been about the monster or the shadows in the night, it has always been about who we are and what some of us truly are deep down. The tagline for this film said it best; "Fear Changes Everything" and after watching The Mist, I completely agree.