After mining the soft-and-fuzzy (and yet still kinda grisly) end of Stephen King's literary catalog with The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, writer-director Frank Darabont may seem like an unlikely choice for tackling one of King's shorter, grimmer horror tales. After turning high-end King into Oscar statues and nominations, why go slumming in the shabbier-seeming sections of King's catalog? Darabont's proven he can warm our hearts with King's stories, but does he have what it takes to chill our blood with one of the author's less high-minded efforts?

The Mist answers that question with a firm "Yes," although you'll be hard-pressed to hear it over the shrieks and shouts coming from the screen and the audience. Darabont's made what can best be called a grade-A B-movie, full of jolts and jumps and classic monster-movie tricks played out with old-school showmanship and thoroughly modern special effects. The plot is vintage King, placing ordinary people in an extraordinary circumstance and watching to see who dies and who doesn't, who discovers hidden strength and who displays hidden madness. And no, The Mist is nothing new -- but it's superbly executed, and far smarter than it had to be. Apparently, Darabont read The Mist when it was published in 1980 and longed to make a film from it; instead, his debut was Shawshank, with The Mist in development limbo for years. The horror fan in me thinks it was more than worth the wait.

In a small coastal town, artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) huddles in the basement with his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) and son Billy (Nathan Gamble) as a storm rages. The next morning, with the power out and downed trees everywhere, David takes Billy into town to get some food, some hardware to fix up damage to the house; it looks like the storm has passed, except for the weirdly dense mist rolling towards town. ... But, as the mist rolls towards the store, a man races in -- bloody and frightened. "Something in the mist! ... Shut the doors!" He claims something in the mist "took" one of his friends. It sounds insane. It is insane. But it isn't wrong. ...
categories Reviews, Cinematical