Finding a gem in Stephen King’s work is not all that hard and The Mist, which was first published by King as a novella in a 1980’s horror anthology called Dark Forces and then again in 1985 as part of his short story collection Skeleton Crew, a tremendous read. If you have read the original short story you might be curious how it could possibly translate to the big screen in a positive way, but then again, director Frank Darabont also adapted The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, so you can put your worries aside. This movie is more than just your average horror movie, it’s something that horror as a genre has needed for some time: a swift kick in the butt.
The story seems basic enough, at first. You’ve got a painter who lives in Maine (where else?) with his family. It’s an idyllic setting with a quaint small town of folks who all know each other way too well. Our hero doesn’t really get along with his neighbor, but that seems like small potatoes compared to what happens after a monstrous storm roars across the lake and changes life in this town within the blink of an eye. Most of the town gathers together in a grocery store as the mist referenced in the title begins to blanket everything around them. It’s a claustrophobic atmosphere and after a while, personalities collide. There’s a great deal of interpersonal drama here, but that’s only part of the horror. The real evil lies out there in the military created mist where strange, disgusting and apparently ravenous creatures are lying in wait to devour any unlucky escapees from the store.
In terms of acting, the cast does an excellent job, especially Thomas Jane whom you may recognize as The Punisher. With the drama factor high in this flick, the acting was crucial and this cast pulled it off perfectly. The tension builds fluidly and in a very realistic way. Well, as realistic as one can expect from a movie that has gruesome mutant monsters running amok. As things get more tense it becomes obvious that help isn’t coming and so eventually, Jane and crew head out into the mist to see where their fates lie.
And this is where audiences split in an ugly, ragged line of those who adore this type of horror and those who hate it. Without giving a spoiler, this reviewer would describe the ending as intriguing while others would cry foul play. The end of the movie is where a good deal of the gut twisting, heart ripping aspects of the story play out and they’re nothing similar to what you read in the novella. Be prepared for this if you want to watch this movie because if you can’t handle not having the story work out in the way you want it to, then you might just be angry.
In the end, The Mist delivers some of King’s finest story elements in a way that’s vastly terrifying and truly satisfying – so long as you can handle a horror flick that doesn’t end in any way you think it might.