17 Jan 2009

Movie Review: Stephen King's The Mist

I’ve been waiting for my online DVD rental company to send me Stephen King’s The Mist for at least two months now. No luck. So, last night my wife and I took matters into our own hands, walked to the local Blockbusters, and for £25 bought the 2 Disc Special Edition on Blu-ray (along with Assembly, a Chinese war movie, which currently sits at 7.6 on imdb). Not the best deal, but not bad either. We opted to watch the colour version (there is a black-and-white version on the second disc, supposedly superior, the director’s version of choice) and here are my thoughts...

I had high hopes going into The Mist (pun intended), possibly the highest I’ve had for any Stephen King adaptation since The Green Mile. Frank Darabont directed both movies, so I felt in pretty safe hands. Well, it’s fair to say it is no Green Mile, and certainly no Shawshank Redemption, but it is a fun horror tale, a strange hybrid of Sixties throwback and modern shocker with obligatory gore. I admit to being extremely worried when the first monster showed up (in the form of tentacles reaching under a loading bay door) because the CGI was dreadful by today’s standards - too shiny, too stuck on. It wrenched me right out of the movie for a time. But the giant insects won me over again, and I was almost able to forget those tentacles. Almost. Another minor gripe was the performance of the lead, Thomas Jane of The Punisher and, er, Dreamcatcher. His reactions were unconvincing if not annoying at times. The rest of the cast put in solid enough performances. On to the good...the psychological aspect and the ending. The real horror in this movie, for we’ve all become desensitised to CGI monsters and gore thanks to the franchises of The Lord of the Rings and Saw respectively, is human in nature - the fast-formed religious mob with its murmurs of sacrifice in the name of ‘expiation’. If that doesn’t at least make you uncomfortable, check the colour of your blood. As for the ending...I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. I will say it’s the most memorable and frustrating scene by a mile, and as such the scene you’ll want to discuss more than any other.

Stephen King’s The Mist isn’t perfect, but it is a welcome antidote to the torture-porn that seems to represent the horror genre these days. On a final note, though I haven’t done so myself yet - make it a point to watch the black-and-white version. I put it on for a few minutes after watching the movie in colour and it immediately felt...right. You’ll see what I mean. Even those shiny-ass tentacles didn’t seem quite so bad...

2 comments:

Ian said...

What is it about black & white (which I grew up with)? I just watched Blood On The Moon, an old Robert Mitchum western, and it looked great, even on a tatty print. I think it's soemthing to do with texture... or tired eyes maybe. Good crit Steven. You should start a dedicated film blog.

Steven J. Dines said...

I know what you mean, Ian. Light and shade seem more pronounced (and therefore more effective) in black and white. Then there is the whole feel to it, unreal and yet at the same time old-fashioned. I'm currently watching the first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and it just seems right in black & white. Same goes for The Twilight Zone. The colour Eighties version doesn't compare to the original, and not just because the stories are inferior - it's simply not the same in colour.

Thanks for visiting, Ian.

Best,
Steven