Grundy demanded it, so I’m supplying it: a review for The Mist. I had zero interest in seeing this flick, but I could not ignore poor Grundy’s pleas, so I bit the bullet and watched it. In the talkbacks, Grundy called it the best horror movie he’s seen in years. With all due respect to him, I have to disagree.
This is not a HORROR film, not at least by the traditional definition. Sure, there’s some weird monsters attacking people, and there is more than enough bloodshed to go around, but this is more of a character drama than anything else. A DAMN GOOD character drama about the manner in which people behave when the shit hits the fan. I was genuinely shocked at what I was seeing, not because it was bad, but because it was so good! Wow!
I don’t want you guys to read any spoiler reviews prior to seeing this, because there are some nice kick-in-the-pants moments here that I don’t want you to know about. I’m going to keep this thing spoiler-free. Basically, the plot of the film consists around a group of people(led by Thomas Jane, looking pretty hot here) who hole up in a grocery store after a strange mist rolls into town and starts killing people. It sounds like your typical setup for a B-horror movie, but the film throws a curveball by morphing into a remake of Lord of the Flies, with bickering and power struggles abounding. There’s enough blood and guts to satisfy you horror fans, but the real beauty of this film how it focuses on the characters. Thomas Jane is great as David Drayton, an average guy who turns into the group leader while trying to protect his young son. I thought Jane sucked as The Punisher, so I was dreading his work here, but I was surprised at how good he was here. I completely bought him as a resourceful guy in a bad situation. If I was in that store, I would have obeyed every word out of the guy’s mouth. He’s got some serious heavy lifting in this film, particularly the finale(the biggest HOLY SHIT moment of the year, hands down), and I never felt one false note in his performance. Damn good work here.
In fact, all of the actors do damn good work, with the exception of one character who was just so annoyingly over the top that I was literally saying aloud, “Can something please kill this bitch already?” Marcia Gay Harden plays the most annoying Jesus freak bitch I’ve ever seen. I suppose her character, Mrs. Carmody, was supposed to get on my last nerves, but jeez, every time they show her, she’s spouting off about Jesus and God and how God is punishing us and yada yada yada. I was ready to go nuts! She’s just so friggin’ over the top here, especially in light of the more subtle performances happening around her. I haven’t read the Stephen King novel, so I can’t say if the character was supposed to be such an irritating bitch, but man! It was a little too much for me. I liked how they showed her paranoia and religious rantings taking their toll on the others in the store. I guess I was supposed to dislike her, but she damn near ruined the movie for me. I was enjoying what was happening with the other characters, and then she’d show up, and I’d want to fast-forward or something.
Another thing that almost wrecked the movie for me was the shitty special effects. When a creature is onscreen, it is BLATANTLY CGI, and it was tough to feel fear when it was so painfully obvious that the thing wasn’t really there. There were times when I would chuckle instead of cringe because the thing looked so fake, but it wasn’t enough to derail the movie. The movie still had enough mojo to keep me on the edge of my seat. I was jumping and gasping more than I have in a “horror” movie in years. This thing does what I love in horror flicks(even though I wouldn’t really classify this as horror): it creates a terrifying atmosphere so that, even when the monster is not onscreen, you are dreading the next attack. Any movie can have a guy suddenly appear from the shadows to make you flinch, but this thing is much more sophisticated than that.
Bad CGI and Jesus freak bitch aside, this is a very good movie. The trailers really don’t give you a good feel as to what this flick is truly about, and quite frankly I’m glad they don’t. It’s nice to be surprised by a movie every once in a while, and this thing was a very pleasant surprise. I wish I could tell you more about why I liked it so much, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I doubt you’ll walk out of this feeling like you wasted your cash. It’s paced very well, the tension goes through the roof at times, and the performances are 99.9% kickass. Now please, go see it so we can all squeal about how AWESOME the ending is. Holy shit…