Length: 126 minutes
Director: Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption; The Green Mile)
Writer: Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption; The Green Mile)
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Andre Braugher, Frances Sternhagen, Alexa Davalos, Buck Taylor, Chris Owen, Nathan Gamble
I should start off by saying I give out “No Star” ratings less than I give out four star ratings. A movie has to really, really be awful (to me) to not merit at least a star- and so the latest Stephen King adaptation has achieved such a dubious honor. I should also say that most of the posters on the Internet Movie Database page for this film seem to really love it. One gentleman even went as far as to call it the “best horror film of the past two decades”. Huh? Did we watch the same movie? I lived with my cousin Josh during most of my high school years and he was an avid horror film buff. We watched a lot of bad (and good) horror movies over the years and I can honestly say that out of all the Z movie garbage we sat through none of them aggravated me as much as this film. Let’s face it- Stephen King was at one point a very talented writer- perhaps the greatest ever in his genre. He has written more than a few masterpieces, but over the past decade or so his writing has really taken a dive creatively. His Maine based “good ol’ boy” characters are all starting to blend together and he has taken to recycling a lot of his ideas. None more so represented then in “From a Buick 8” which was a basic watering down of everything he’s ever done. “The Mist” is the film version of his inadequacies. I understand what director Frank Darabont is going for here, I really do, it just doesn’t work. His attraction to King’s literature is understandable. His adaptation of “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” was absolutely wonderful and it received a Best Picture nomination. I thought “The Green Mile” was an interesting failure, though it too received a Best Picture nod (it should be noted that Darabont didn’t receive a Directing nod for either). The third time is far from the charm. Darabont’s jumbled mess half heartedly wants to pay homage to sci-fi b-movies and be a “statement” picture at the same time. If any of you readers are King fans: think of all the times you’ve read one of his novels and thought to yourself, “This book could have done without this character” (you know you have)- this movie is compromised solely of those characters. You know the ones I’m talking about. Think of the hundreds of pages that could have been trimmed from some of those thousand page plus epics. King is so mighty that no one will edit him properly. The reason “The Stand” and “It” worked so well as a TV mini-series was because they were forced to be edited both with characters and length. Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is arguably the best King adaptation and it strays the farthest from it’s source material. “The Mist” indulges in King’s weaknesses- especially the characters. The everyman, but semi-flawed, hero (Thomas Jane); The stubborn feeble-minded redneck (William Sadler); The pretty girl (Laurie Holden) who was the town beauty, but has lost something as she grows older; The lonely, confused religious zealot (Marcia Gay Harden); The loser (Toby Jones) who drinks too much, but turns out to be a hero. I could go on and on. He even throws in the tough elderly person- this time an old school teacher (Frances Sternhagen)- who even accompanies the men when they go off to fight the monsters. The plot? A group of townspeople are trapped in a small Maine (where else?) grocery store by a fog that contains giant insect monsters from another dimension. But, wait… get this! The real “monsters" are the people inside! That’s right! You get to see how people start to act when death faces them and they get scared for their lives, blah, blah, blah. Really??? Did we really need to have this film made? How was this not destined to hit ABC for a three night mini-series stay? How did this get a theatrical release? After people start getting picked off by the bugs, the religious zealot- overplayed by Harden in the worst possible way- begins to predict what will happen next (who couldn’t?) and people begin to believe she is channeling God and that outside Revelations is happening. All of the King clichés really start pouring out then, leading up to a rushed, extremely clumsy and intentionally “shocking” finale that has sharply divided everyone that has seen the movie. I hated this movie. Absolutely hated it. It made me want to throw all of my Stephen King books in the trash. It made me want to write Frank Darabont hate mail for wasting two hours of my life. It was, to me, one of those movies. This would be a good time to bring up my note on the blog that states that this is “just my opinion”. You may indeed love this movie as most of the IMDB posters did- and even certainly some critics did as well. Robert Roten of Laramie Movie Scope called it one of the best horror films of all time. Maxim said it was a “masterpiece”. Movies are meant to get reactions from people and some get extremely positive reactions, others get extremely negative ones. After I posted a negative review for “I Know Who Killed Me” some anonymous person who would have lost in the first round of an elementary school spelling bee called me a “cry baby kid” who didn’t understand the movie. Even b-movie Lindsay Lohan trash can be loved. Though, to be fair, I’d watch “I Know Who Killed Me” a dozen more times before I’d watch “The Mist” again.