“The Mist” is based on a Stephen King novella from “ ,” a collection of short stories that sold millions of copies. The book includes 22 stories, but nobody’s ever made one into a successful feature film. Not a good sign.
The setup involves a storm that passes through a suburb in Maine. Most of the action is centered at the local supermarket: Thomas Jane and play David and Billy Drayton, a successful artist and his five-year-old son who need emergency supplies when the power goes out. Things get interesting when a mist develops and creeps into town. A guy with a bloody nose runs in – something from the mist came after him, he says…something deadly and uncontrollable (and computer-animated).
A religious cliché named Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) tells everyone that the mist is an act of God: That would explain the arrival of locusts, but what about the aliens with killer tentacles? God probably would’ve just sent a pale horse.
At one point, the movie becomes an essay on chaos and fear. There’s always a place for politics in Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “Night of the Living Dead” only deepens the chill, but the subtext in “The Mist” is about as subtle as a blunt instrument to the skull.: Satire in films like “
The film constantly stops to admire its own special effects, which could’ve been overlooked if they weren’t so excessive. In “Night of the Living Dead,” a pair of bloated, staring eyes was made using paint and Ping-Pong balls. In “The Mist,” special effects look like special effects.
This is a bad film, but not a dreadful one – Darabont uses the same energy and style that made “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” so successful. If he’d made “The Mist” with enough confidence to control it, maybe he would’ve had something.