The Pluses: The Mist has a suitably vague premise that does lend itself to potential scares, it features a better cast and finer performances than you would normally expect from a horror flick and has a fine build in the first 30 minutes with an increasing feel of unease and uncertainty.
The Minuses: The “inhabitants” of the Mist are pretty shit, the CGI is at times so laughable that it takes you out of the story and the film is 40 minutes too long.
So Plus and Minus almost even each other out… what to do, what to do?
The Tiebreaker: The Mist has one of the darkest – and therefore most horrific endings that I have seen in decades, it somehow saves the film from the gradual downhill spiral that the film takes after the Mist arrives to lay siege to the humble townies.
Therefore I am labelling The Mist as a worthwhile horror film, just hold your breath and tap your feet for a slowwww middle hour.
When a storm hits his remote home David Drayton (Thomas Jane) takes his son Billy and neighbour Paul – whose shiny flash car was crushed by debris – into town for supplies. They leave Mum at home to keep cleaning up.
Once in the local store they notice a thick (spoiler?)… Mist rolling towards them. Around the same time a blackout hits and all communications are lost, it doesn’t rain it pours – oh wait that was the previous night.
As the alarmed locals wonder what is going on Army trucks and emergency service vehicles swarm all over town – though none of them seem to be talkin’.
As the Mist nears a bloodied and panicked man races into the supermarket screaming “SOMETHING IN THE MIST JUST TOOK A GUY”, or words to that effect. Some of the 60 odd former shoppers are cynical, others openly doubt his claims, but tension nonetheless builds swiftly.
The “inmates” decide to remain put for the time being – even though some have relatives and loved ones at home only a short distance away, and while there they go through the normal “What to do?” phases:
- – Concern
- – Momentary panic and quelling of same
- – Planning
- – Noise and arguments
- – Some paranoia
- – Tentacles…
OK maybe the last one isn’t in EVERY horror film, but rest assured it plays a fair part in this one. The witnesses to the initial tentacle insurgence break the news to the remaining people and are roundly mocked, leading to a revisiting of the “What to do?” phases, though in more rapid succession.
Once it suddenly and abruptly becomes evident that this might not be a hoax things progress a little more swiftly. Factions develop within the ranks, the logical, the redneck idiots and perhaps most disturbingly the one religious nut who somehow manages to start convincing others that this really is the End of Days. Once a groundswell of stupidity gains momentum a small group including David, Billy and a few others realise that the strange goings on outside are perhaps only mildly more dangerous than the goings on inside.
The strength of the film – aside from the ending – is the real fear and conviction shown by those trapped, and even though you might detest the reactions and opinions of some characters (and I did) that perhaps proves more than anything that in certain situations people are willing to believe in any nonsense that they are served if it is convincing enough, just so they have SOMETHING to believe in.
I’ve mentioned before that the CGI is cheap looking and detracts from the film’s effectiveness, a couple of interactions between the living and the computer generated look very much like a person waving at something added later that doesn’t quite mesh. The Grooblies from the Mist are many and varied, some far more effective and realistic than others, some just there to pad the numbers I guess – like the nerdy relatives at a Buck’s night.
Then there’s the ending. Obviously I can’t tell much without giving the game away but I will say The Mist would be half as effective without it and imminently more forgettable. In a sometimes meandering and protracted film the ending stands out as one of the greats – although I could have done without the now obligatory Lord of the Rings rip-off music that was supposed to be moody and important but ended up loud and overbearing.
All in all though sometimes it not how you get there but how you finish – and in that way The Mist definitely leaves a lasting impression.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Still needs a more brutal edit in the middle section, but describing the ending is what will have you spoiling your friend’s enjoyment of this film for years to come.