A wild storm rocks a coastal Maine town, and, as if the aftermath, including extensive damage and power loss wasn't enough, the town becomes eveloped by a strange dense mist populated by some horrific monsters. As a group of the residents struggle to deal with these mysterious and terrible events while trapped in the supermarket, they also find themselves battling their own fears, paranoia, and issues with one another- stuff that could be more damaging than the supernatural horros lurking outside.
The film is loaded with B-sci-fi supernatural horror elements, but it doesn't have the complete feel of that sort of thing. It's really a pretty good study of human nature in the face of crisis and disaster that just happens to feature all manner of weird and creepy creatures, usually of the prehistoric, insect, and arachnid-esque varieties.
The production values are terrific. The film is overflowing with an eerie atmosphere, creepy mood, and dark tone, and there's an abundance of tension, suspense, and some genuine shocks and scares. The gore effects, when presents look great, and the spooky stuff is really effective. The creatures, when shown briefly, from a distance, and not clearly, look great. When seen closer up, with more clarity, and for more than a few glimpses, they don't look as good, and it makes me wish the CGI could have been a little less fake looking. Practical effects would have been better.
As far as acting goes, well, Thomas Jane is the main protagonist- a typical square jawed everyman just trying to be as practical as he can, even if his choices don't always work out. He does a decent job, but it kinda feels a little thankless, and he almost seemed too rugged and not ordinary enough. Marcia Gay Harden is a scene stealer as the typical unhinged religious zealot, and she does decently enough given the material, but at times things get a little too nutty and over the top. Andre Braigher is a good actor, but his character seemed a little wasted and got on my nerves. For me though, a couple of the best crowd pleasing moments are provided by Toby Jones and Frances Sternhagen as the meek assistant manager of the supermarket and an elderly schoolteacher, respectively.
As far as plot speculation about the origins of the events go, they're okay, but didn't grab me as much as they probably should have. I think I would have been happier with a lot more ambiguity. Not necessarily on the level of The Birds, but that wouldn't have been a bad place to try for. The ending is significantly different from the one that closes out the Stephen King novella this is based on, but, even thought I haven't read that, the change makes for one hell of a shocker.
All in all, this is pretty solid. Darabont has made (to date) 4 feature films, three of them being adaptations of Stephen King stories, with this one being the only one that delivers typical King stuff as opposed to his less frequent, but still good "straight" work. The film has subtext and tries to be more than just schlock, and that's fine. It's not great, but it is pretty entertaining and very watchable, despite it's shortcomings. I give it a strong B.