Monday, 30 June 2008

The Mist Review

There has been a rather good trend recently of horror films actually turning out to be pretty good - [.REC], The Orphanage, The Descent (OK, that one's a little older). Could it be that producing companies/distributors have realised that everyone hates those 15-rated 80's horror remakes? Let's hope so, because if films like The Mist keep coming out, I may well have to turn my attention back to the genre...
To keep it simple, The Mist is one of the best horror films I've ever seen. Whilst it may not reach the intensity of, say, "The Descent", or the filmic brilliance of "Alien", when it comes to serving up some insane scares with a great storyline and believable characters, The Mist knocks 'em dead. The story is easy to follow - bad storm, natural/supernatural mist closes in, people trapped in convenience store fight for their lives - and it's nice to see a film that manages to balance characterisation with lots of scary action really well. Of course, with Frank Darabont directing, this was never going to be yet another recycled horror debacle.

The monsters, all CGI (which is limited due to the budget - though you'll hardly care), are truly horrific. Following very closely, according to Alex, the descriptions of the creatures in Stephen King's novella, they provide many of the non-human scares, and amiably so. From giant spiders who shoot acidic webs (in an excellent, terrifically tense scene in a chemist's) to toothed tentacles belonging to an unseen 'thing' which rip off flesh disturbingly easily, we are shown enough to be scared, whilst giving the feeling that what we see is not even the worst of what is out there. The film follows a style similar to that of War of the Worlds, as we follow only one father's story of trying to protect his son, meaning that we never are shown everything, in keeping with the novella's occasional ambiguity. Also, it's nice to have something truly monstrous in a horror film - none of those silly malformed psycho-killers a la Jigsaw or Leatherface.

Not all of the horror is built up through the creatures, with tension being amped up in the film's true message. The development of the characters trapped in the shop is fantastic, slowly building up tension as attemps to escape the mist inevitably end tragically. It is also here that we encounter the film's greatest asset - Marcia Gay Harden (teehee!) - a religious nutjob, whose theories and speculations of imminent apocalypse at first seems crazy, but soons develops a following. She is truly creepy, her monologues always sending a shiver down the spine.

As with many King adaptations, whilst there are many conclusions, we are left to interpret alot for ourselves, making the viewing of the film more personal to whoever watches it. We are all able to read into it how much or how litte we want - those looking for intelligence, chills and meaning in a horror film will get it, and those who want to see a scary monster film about unnatural (?) fog will get exactly that. The whole thing leads up to a gut-wrenching final scene that may be too downbeat and shocking for some, but I personally loved - finally a Hollywood horror movie grows some serious balls. What happens is, in every way, the true meaning of horror. I implore you to see The Mist. It is brilliant.

Genre Value: 4/5
Entertainment Value: 4/5
Style: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
The Mist is released nationwide in cinemas on Friday July 4th


Erik said...

Brilliant review absolutly loved the film :) thanks for linking me up with it !

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