The Mist Review
By Joe Lozito
There's something very wrong in "The Mist". And I don't mean the wholly unscary CGI beasties that pop out exactly as expected to gobble up the supporting cast of Frank Darabont's horrendous adaptation of Stephen King's novella. No, I'm referring more to the stilted pacing, sub-B-level acting and unintentional-laugh-filled script. How could Mr. Darabont - Hollywood's Stephen King go-to adapter after 1994's fan favorite, "The Shawshank Redemption", and 1999's schmaltz-fest, "The Green Mile" - have gone so amiss? Well, let's start from the top.
As in Mr. King's novella, an eerie fog rolls into a small Maine town ('natch) trapping a mixed-bag of rationalists and religious nuts in a supermarket - apparently Mr. Darabont will only adapt a King story that involves some kind of prison. No sooner does someone say "I'll be right back" then a loading dock door opens, letting in some of the worst CGI effects I can remember in a mainstream Hollywood film. Adopting the jerky handheld technique from the Sci-Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica", but apparently learning nothing from the teachings of "Jaws", Mr. Darabont lets his creatures roam free in broad daylight in all their computer-generated fakery. Aside from the awful, bogus tentacles that shriek and spout claws, there are moth-type flying thingies as well as something that looks like an emaciated first-draft of Watto from "The Phantom Menace"
. And the less said about the acid-spewing spiders the better. Regardless of how much embellishing occurs in his script, Mr. Darabont fights a losing battle here. Nothing his computer wizards can create will match the conjurings of Mr. King's text (or his reader's imaginations). As if that's not bad enough, there's not a single moment of suspense to make the creature attacks scary. It's as though Mr. Darabont has never seen a horror movie before. If a window is framed in the background of any shot, you know
a creature's about to appear.
In the center of it all is Thomas Jane - about as close to a classic B-movie actor as we have nowadays (if you don't remember him from 2004's tragic comic adaptation "The Punisher", you might recall his shark-surfing turn in 1999's waterlogged Renny Harlin fiasco "Deep Blue Sea"
). As a father struggling to protect his son (Nathan Gamble, convincingly scared and mercifully non-annoying), Mr. Jane channels his inner Harrison Ford and gives a grounded, earthy performance that is deserving of its own - far better - action movie.
Of course, Mr. Jane doesn't have much competition since Mr. Darabont's script is peopled with the worst kind of rehashed horror movie caricatures (to be fair, Mr. King's short story didn't do much better) . From the clichéd smalltown hicks who venture into the mist against Mr. Jane's protestations, to the litigious outsider (Andre Braugher, really!) who thinks the locals are trying to get one over on him, to the Bible-beating doomsayer (Marcia Gay Harden, amazingly agreeing to this role) who organizes her own impromptu congregation, "The Mist" is chock full o' nuts.
Too bad none of the characters is remotely...well, a character
, let alone believable or empathetic. About forty minutes into the film (which, at two hours, takes longer to watch than the original novella does to read), right around the time someone trips over the bucket of kerosene, it becomes painfully clear that there's no one to root for in the film. Sadly, Mr. Darabont has a corker of an ending lined up, but the film doesn't come close to earning it. "We're in the middle of a disaster", one character notes midway through the mayhem. This is the one moment in "The Mist" that the audience is likely to identify with.