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Posted on 6/25/10 03:02 PM
The Mist is a B-movie. It is a rehashed, microwave heated leftover of films like John Carpenter's The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, and the adaptation of Stephen King's own Children of the Corn. Cinematically, there is virtually no redeeming quality about the film. The special effects are a snooze-fest. The plot is as tired as the tread on a '57 Chevy that's been sitting in a junk yard for ten years. I loved almost every minute of it.
The beauty of a scenario like aliens invading, the end of days, or any other apocalyptic event is that it liberates the film from requirements like feasibility and allows it to become a platform for commentary on the human race. Indeed, is Night of the Living Dead a film about how horrible zombies are or how horrible people are? Such is the case with this film. With a brewing war between the empirical, "Godless" clan and the cult led by a fundamentalist, Revelations spouting lunatic played by Marcia Gay Hardin with manic energy worthy of airtime at 2:30 a.m. on Cinemax. The film is at its best when exploring this conflict. It's a real treat to soak in the low-rent methods director Frank Darabont borrows to flesh out this conflict, including canted framings directly borrowed from yet another Stephen King adaptation: Creepshow. It seems that these references, as well as images in a white locale with way too many lights shining through the mist strongly reminiscent of images from The Thing are entirely intentional. This film is just as much a celebration of these types of films as it is its own entity.
Much has been written, irresponsibly I believe, about the ending of this film. It has been called bold, shocking, even haunting. Note to critics: To say an ending is shocking is akin to giving away the ending. STOP! It's actually just not a "Hollywood" ending. This is the classic mark of the B-movie. Why would a studio care if a movie like this has a feel-good ending? It's not going to make any money anyway. The ending works because it clearly has not been tampered with by test audiences or over-zealous producers. The irony is that the very resolution that our hero desired is the one thing that finally destroys him. It's nifty. It's nihilistic. It's just plain cool.
The film could stand to lose some of its parts which just don't fit. The sequence in the loading dock where our hero clan talks philosophically about their situation, saying things like "People are basically good" and "Don't you have any faith in humanity?" Snip it. There are moments of heartfelt emoting. Snip it. They're just stopping this movie from being what it truly is: the first installment in a series of movies about a mercenary who lost his family during an apocalyptic event, and is now hunting down a cult of God-crazed killers who sacrifice human beings to appease the God they believe is punishing the Earth. He will ride a motorcycle. He will kill many, many mutants and giant insects. He will be afraid to be close to anyone ever again. He will be mad.
This is not a film. It's a movie. It's one of those movies that you go into expecting nothing, and leave yearning for the return of the drive-in theatre, and the types of movies that were shown at them. They were movies that didn't pretend to be poignant or even relevant, but oftentimes ended up saying more than Chariots of Fire and Ordinary People combined. They were movies with nothing but "yarbles".