The Mist (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (2007)

Actors: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones
Directors: Frank Darabont
Format: Collector's Edition, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 2
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
Run Time: 126 minutes



The Mist is based on a Stephen King novella, but don't let that put you off . . .

Unlike most movies sporting the dreaded Stephen King's moniker, The Mist is pretty darned good. In fact, it is simply the best horror movie in ages - or at least the best one since The Descent.

A group of small-town people are trapped inside a supermarket by a mysterious mist following a severe electric storm. "Something" is in the mist as one character breathlessly declares - monsters, creatures. The explanation for it all is more sci-fi-y than one would expect. It has to do with the nearby U.S. military base and an experiment to open a window to a parallel dimension.

But the window has become a door and let in alien creatures from a much more Darwinian environment than our own. Suddenly man has moved down a notch or two on the evolutionary food chain as humanity has to cope with enough displaced monsters to make the single creature from Cloverfield look like a walk in Central Park . . .

What makes The Mist compelling viewing though is director Frank (Shawshank Redemption) Darabont's realization that man is the greatest monster of them all. "As a species we're fundamentally insane," a philosophically-minded shop clerk muses. "Put more than two of us in a room and we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?"

So forget the various CGI beasties lurking outside the besieged supermarket, The Mist boasts one of the most hateful villains since Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Marcia Gay Harden as the religious nut, Mrs. Carmody. Preaching fire and brimstone, and finally demanding human sacrifice, it is as if Sissy Spacek's mother just walked in from Carrie into this movie.

Religious sensitive types may bristle at the character, but some perspective is provided by a biker-type who tells her: "Hey crazy lady. I believe in God too. I just don't think He's the blood-thirsty asshole you make Him out to be." Secular humanists will however be air punching when she finally meets her comeuppance.

Low on actual scares, but high on tension, part of the movie's strength is how it naturally explores how such an unlikely event will play out in reality. Darabont's story-telling talents shine through here and his script, which takes some time in getting to know our characters, is further abetted by an excellent ensemble cast consisting mostly of unknowns. (The biggest "name" is probably that of Thomas Jane, star of the recent The Punisher remake. Older SF fans will also be jarred by just how old Frances Sternhagen, Sean Connery's cynical medical doctor sidekick in Outland, is!)

THE DISCS: In addition to a lengthy making of featurette on the second disc, the entire movie is presented again in its entirety and unchanged, but in Black & White this time round. In his introduction to this version director Darabont tells of how he prefers the movie in Black & White as it reminds him of old Ray Harryhausen flicks and the original Night of the Living Dead.

Personally we prefer the theatrical color version, but if you're a fan of B&W photography then it is worth checking out this version too. It is also recommended that you do not check out any of the featurettes or even the trailers before watching the movie as they do give away plot details.

As Peter Hammond of Maxim states on the box cover, The Mist has "one of the most shocking movie endings ever!" This isn't mere hyperbole. When the ending rolls around one thinks that the movie is going to end the one would have written it oneself, but you dismiss the possibility as few Hollywood movies have the balls for that sort of ending. When The Mist actually ends that way, it is like a short, swift kick to the groin. (Incidentally the ending differs from the one in Stephen King's source material.)

WORTH IT? Definitely, yes. Buy or rent it.

RECOMMENDATION: Forget the over-hyped Cloverfield. The best new creature feature out there is The Mist. Much better characterization, a thoughtful story, great ensemble acting and the sort of steady photography that won't make you throw up in your popcorn, it beats Cloverfield hands down in every single department.



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