At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Mist “07”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Sci-Fi Horror/ Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Alexa Davalos, Nathan Gamble, Chris Owen, Sam Witwer, Robert Treveiler, David Jensen, Melissa McBride, Andy Stahl, Buck Taylor, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Walter Fauntleroy, Brandon O’Dell, Jackson Hurst, Susan Watkins, Mathew Greer, Kelly Collins Lintz, Ron Clinton Smith/ Runtime: 126 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off by stating the film I am reviewing for you today, 2007’s horror gem The Mist is a film that manages to operate quite efficiently in several key ways in order to conjure up a slice of cinematic pie that manages to be a truly fine albeit underrated I feel entry in the world of Horror movie magic with the first of these ways being the fact that this film brilliantly operates with a decent amount of ambiguity to it. Make no mistake: we do learn a fair bit about the titular substance and just what (if anything) is within it throughout the course of the film’s runtime, and yes the concept at the heart of it is one that although not new is one that could be and should be explored by other films that are incidentally hopefully of this quality and not say The Cloverfield Paradox, but we never learn separately from the cast just what is there to be afraid of in this situation. Rather, the film makes the ingenuous choice to have you, the viewer become more like an active participant in what goes on during the film. As a result not only do we not get even a drop of intel more than the characters, but we are also legitimately exasperated, stunned, and grief-stricken throughout since we have been led to believe that we have actual stakes in what happens in this narrative and are witnessing these moments firsthand rather than through the lens of a movie camera.  The second is the fact that the novelty of this slice of cinematic pie is undeniable. Yes the keen of eye and knowledgeable enough movie goer will most likely be able to see shades of several other distinct entries in the horror genre here and there including Aliens, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and even Cloverfield to a fair extent. Yet with the top-notch work of Frank Darabont at the helm, this is one film that is as unique as I can say I have witnessed. Finally the third aspect would have to be the fact that this is a film which is aided immensely by a top-flight cast who honestly don’t seem like they are performing as a character. Instead they legitimately feel like typical people we might see every day (or at least we will again when COVID clears up….oh what a difference a year makes) who are just as stubborn, reckless, and terrified as you or I might be if we found ourselves in the same set of circumstances. As such, this is a film that doesn’t feel acted, but rather is one that gives off an organic vibe that will both lure you in and then invest you on both a pathos and psychological level that not a lot of slices of cinematic pie are able to accomplish. Thus when you put these aspects and some other equally as wonderful ingredients together into the proverbial blender as it were, what you get is a very riveting and very emotional trip into a nightmare that I promise you will never ever forget…

The plot is as follows: The Mist tells the story of a man by the name of David Drayton who makes his way in the world as an artist and who, when our riveting narrative begins, is residing with his wife and son Billy in a small town in (where else) Maine. However things soon start to take a turn for the ominous when a horrific storm proceeds to knock out their power, ruin David’s latest artwork in progress, and uproots a tree which subsequently decides to take up new residence in their house. Thus in the aftermath we see David, Billy, and their next door neighbor by the name of Brent, who incidentally David has had issues with in the past, decide to head to their town’s grocery store in order to get a few essentials. However before they can wrap up their shopping trip, things take a turn for the horrific when a horrible mist envelops the store and is then followed up by a horrifically injured man running into the store talking about “something” being in the mist. Thus as befuddlement settles in, it quickly becomes apparent to David and some other people besieged in the store with him that there something ominous really is lying in wait for them in the mist and if they are stupid enough to try and leave it will not hesitate to murder them right then and there. It is with this development that we soon start to see subgroups begin to be conjured up: one allied with David and the other around a dotty religious fanatic by the name of Mrs. Carmody who sees this occurrence as no more and no less than “the wrath of God punishing the wicked” (charming woman). Suffice it to say then that unless these individuals are able to accept one another and team up to try and protect themselves from whatever is lying in wait for them outside, I think it is not wrong to assume that the blossoming hostility, lack of trust, and fury in this small grocery store in Small Town Maine, USA might just be infinitely more terrifying to say nothing of perilous than any entity that could potentially be lying in wait outside…..

Now it should be noted right off the bat that The Mist impressively never wavers in its manner of escalating the levels of both tension and unease that you, the viewer should feel during the film’s runtime with perhaps the possible exceptions being a few moments at the start of the film being your only break in the chilling and potent intensity this film hurls your way. After those moments however, I promise you that things will continue to build and build until it all comes to a head with a conclusion that is so very much anti-Hollywood like in nature (to say nothing of heart shredding) that even if the rest of the film was a colossal failure, it would still get props for how everything ends for our characters. Suffice it to say that the conclusion to this film is one that is not only unforgettable and eternally haunting, but one that will leave you doubting just about everything. Despite the heartwrenching conclusion however, this film is distinct in that you will not want this slice of cinematic pie to get to its resolution despite the potent intensity the film comes packaged with since it is such a well done slice of cinematic pie that the film ending and you being brought back to the “real world” can be quite jarring. However, if this is your first time to sit down and watch this film you may just want to see how it ends as fast as possible. Either way I can promise you that this film brings such a diverse spectrum of emotion that ultimately you will be just as befuddled and anxiety-stricken as the characters in the movie.

Finally it should also be said that The Mist is a novel movie viewing experience for the fact that this is a present day horror film with quite a few ingredients that are throwbacks to the iconic time for sci-fi back in the 50s. Indeed even though this slice of cinematic pie is one that does borrow ingredients from films made around the same time as it, there is an equal number of nods that give this slice of cinematic pie a vibe straight out of the 50s. Indeed in a similar vein to the iconic film The Thing from Another World from 1951, we as an audience are treated to hearing dialogue said in a quiet voice between a small band of individuals whilst in the background we can barely if at all hear anything else that is being said thus giving this film a very grounded and realistic feel to it. By accomplishing this, this does a few things to the benefit of the overall film. The first thing is that it manages to put us in the midst of the group without denying us from witnessing everything else that is occurring at the time. This is important because too often slices of cinematic pie usually forget about the “everything else” except for what the camera wants us to see. The second thing is that it is able to help the film in conjuring up quite the claustrophobic vibe so that we feel like we are there with this group of individuals who is constantly butting heads with each other. Thus as we are focusing on one group in particular, we are treated to a group in the background emerge and realistically interrupt the conversation in progress. Indeed it is not often where we see characters in a slice of cinematic pie be given the autonomy to just pop in and out whilst also being permitted to speak when they would like thus giving the dialogue the chance to give this film the vibe of something that seems to have been filmed in the 50s, but was just discovered in a vault and colorized for a modern audience’s viewing pleasure.

All in all I am pleased to let you know that The Mist is a truly fantastic slice of cinematic pie from the genre that is Horror with the right mix of ingredients, to say nothing of film helming style that ensures this is a truly iconic entry in the genre. It is also worth noting that the film is also one which is truly gutsy in how it chooses to wrap things up whilst also operating with a distinct and unique pathos that movie goers don’t get to witness that much in films of any genre and as a result it comes out as way more organic than it could have been otherwise. Not to mention, but I really appreciated how this slice of cinematic pie felt more like a throwback to the time when films such as this were more common than they are now whilst also showcasing dialogue that feels very much in synch with those films thus making this one feel more traditional than most. Oh and it also most certainly doesn’t hurt that we get wonderful work from every single person in the cast especially Thomas Jane leading the way and Marcia Gay Harden making things work with a wonderful supporting role that is horrific yet also kooky in all the best ways. Thus what you are left with at the end of the day dear reader is a true blue entry in the horror genre that I can’t help, but recommend even as I know the ending is one which will tear you to shreds worse than anything that may or may not be in the titular mist for our characters.  On a scale of 1-5 I give The Mist “07” a solid 4 out of 5.