MOVIE REVIEW: The Mist

Once upon a time I wrote for a wonderful horror genre review site called Fear Zone. Unfortunately it fell victim to the crushing economic collapse of the mid-decade along with so many others. However, I was thrilled to find all of my old articles and reviews on a backup drive last night. Thus, I will be reposting them for your viewing pleasure. Here is the very first, a review of the movie THE MIST. Enjoy!

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I would like to pose a question to you. If you had your choice fighting for survival against savage prehistoric monsters from another dimension or being trapped in a grocery store with a group of religious zealots convinced that the end of the world was at hand, which would you chose? Neither prospect seems very desirable, does it? Go outside the store and there’s a 99% chance you’ll be shredded like holiday wrapping paper by something with massive teeth and claws; stay inside and you’ll have the same chance of becoming your neighbor’s next holy sacrifice as they fight to save their own miserable souls. However, after sitting through Stephen King’s new horror movie The Mist, I think I would rather take my chances with the monsters. The winged, skull-faced creatures with tentacles lined with flesh-ripping barbs… Well, maybe, scratch that…someone just leave me a gun with one bullet in it if it ever comes to that. Seriously.

The Mist takes place after a devastating storm hits a small east-coast town just outside of Portland. Shortly thereafter, a bizarre white mist envelops the entire region trapping David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son Billy (Nathan Gamble) in the local grocery store with a group a townsfolk there to collect supplies. After one of the townsfolk comes running into the store bloody and screaming of “things in the mist”, David quickly realizes that they are under siege by massive, unspeakable creatures from another world. Trapped in the store, having witnessed several gruesome deaths of their neighbors whom have attempted to venture out, the people quickly begin to turn on one another with the guidance of a psychotic religious zealot, whom up until that time had been considered the local misfit. It soon becomes all too clear that, if they are to survive at all, David and his friends must make a decision as to whether to take their chances in the horrors of the mist outside or become the next sacrifice of the hordes inside the store…

The movie let out about an hour ago and, frankly, my adrenaline is still so high that my hands are shaking. Not only did The Mist cause me to involuntarily shriek out loud at several moments during its 127 minutes, leaving me holding my breath for what seemed like an eternity, it also severely disturbed me on a primal, psychological level that I feel I shall be pondering for many days to come. For certain, it will be a hard task to find sleep tonight. You see, The Mist is not simply another bloody tale of man-eating creatures from another dimension. It is a statement about how close we all are, at any time, to being reduced to our most base animalistic instincts to survive and exactly what we will do to achieve that. The human psyche is a frightfully fragile thing. We fool ourselves into believing that we are capable of being heroes in our own right when the darkness falls. We would like to cling to the idea that, in a dire situation, we would band together as a community in order to ensure the survival of the greatest number possible, but the truth couldn’t be further from this idea. When faced with our deepest fears and the most impossibly shocking atrocities, the human psyche simply cannot withstand the onslaught and shatters, the layers and layers of “civilized” education used to sculpt us from birth and fit us into our neat slot of humanity blowing away like roof shingles in a tornado.

What we are left with is our fear and our primal instinct to slaughter any that threaten our chance at survival, the “fight or flight” reaction we so often mock in the animal kingdom. Out of that fear, of death, damnation or worse we cling to the words of those that promise salvation, against all reason. The concept of heaven and hell become our realities, God and the Devil lifted from the pages of whatever book we read from and in the “mist” of our inability to see gray, we commit unspeakable actions. We cross that line into savagery from which there is no true return. The true monsters lie within each other.

It is an ancient concept, the idea that humanity is the true evil and in its light, all other horrors pale in comparison. Authors, since the beginning of civilization, have attempted to approach this subject with varying degrees of success, trying to angle the mirror just so as to capture the true reflection of the demon lurking below our skins. However, in the hands of the almighty horror mastermind Stephen King, this age-old story takes on a particular level of dementia that leaves the viewer shaken to the core. With a brilliantly witty and philosophically profound script, riddled with the trademark King sadistic dark humor, and a superbly selected cast of award-winning actors including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones, and Andre Braugher amongst others, King throws us headfirst down a dark well of insanity that has no exit and no hope. The keen artistic vision of director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Frankenstein) brings to life the most sinister aspects of both dimensions, ours and the other world’s, leaving the viewer begging to be released from clutches of the movie’s intense apocalyptic bloodlust. The stellar performance given by Marcia Gay Harden, who plays the religious zealot, is almost as terrifying as the magnificently horrendous creatures crashing through the plate glass windows and rending the people limb from limb. In the opposite respect, the powerful, honest deliveries by Thomas Jane and Laurie Holden make one want to weep at the dismal desperation of their uncertain fates. As they are trapped together, day after day, the crumbling of their sanities becomes palpable, getting under your skin like crawling spiders and making you want to leave your theater chair for a breath of fresh air. You can’t leave though; The Mist just won’t let you…

And just when you think there might, just might, be a light at the end of the madness, King and Darabont take you from the bottom of the well and shove you down deep into the inner rings of Dante’s hell. I won’t tell you the ending, but I will tell you, it’s not a happy one.

In the deluge of horror movies generated each year, only a very few rise to the top, surpassing merely the shock of their bloody contents to become true masterpieces, rising through the mist, so to say. The Mist is Oscar-worthy, if you ask me, not only for its brilliant artistic construction, but also for its poignant wake-up call to all of humanity to pause for a moment and reflect on the true nature of evil. I urge you to see this movie while it is in the theaters to reap the full effects. Then, go home and look in the mirror and ask yourself: What would you do?

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