THE MIST (***) - Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, Andre Braugher, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn and Frances Sternhagen.
Written & Directed by Frank Darabont.
2007 may be remembered for a few things, but one notable achievement is that it contained two decent Stephen King horror movies. 1408 was rewarding for its mind-bending twists and turns, and John Cusack's central performance. Now here comes The Mist, probably the best monster movie of the past few years.
It reminded me of Dreamcatcher in many ways, all of them positive. While Dreamcatcher's monsters were too silly to take seriously (they came out of what?), The Mist has good special effects and lets you see the beasties up close, and even though we know we're watching CGI effects, there's still something pretty cool and dangerous about a giant spiked tentacle wrapping itself around a guy's neck.
But The Mist is more than about what's out there. The movie takes place in a grocery store, where people are trapped, hoping the mist will pass, and take whatever is inside it with it. But thanks to one religious zealot (King's the king of writing the CCC - Crazy Christian Character; remember the mother from Carrie?), inside the store may be just as dangerous, as people grasp at straws and wonder if this is indeed the end of the world.
Marcia Gay Harden embraces her role and steals the movie in the acting department. Her CCC is naturally delusional and hypocritical, and scary in how she's able to persuade people so easily.
It takes itself just seriously enough to get some good jolts. It was adapted by Frank Darabont, who did King justice with The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Not working on Oscar-bait has freed him up to have a little monster-movie fun.