Written and Directed by: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn
Man, I wasn't so pissed by a movie in a long time. This shouldn't be considered a review, more like a rambling article. The film in question is Frank Darabont's The Mist, a film based on Stephen King's novella about a group of people trapped in a grocery store while a mysterious mist with terrifying monsters dwells outside. If there was a horror movie cliche manual somewhere, you probably wouldn't find The Mist in there, since it was in fact critically moderately well-received (something which I am quite frankly baffled by) and there were so many renowned names both behind and in front of the camera involved. But let me begin...
It's a shame that people behaving incredibly dumb in a movie cannot be considered as a plot hole (something which this movie has a lot too, we'll get to that later). There are plenty of your typical horror C-movie reactions to monsters where everyone stands stiff, nobody tries to run in other direction, someone starts rejoicing before the situation has nearly come to an end and so on and so forth. What surprised me is how much the acting and the dialogue were atrocious, getting progressively worse as the film moved on. There was especially one scene which was downright insulting dialogue-wise, where the characters go into a sudden philosophical discussion about the destructive nature of humanity, a.k.a. hitting the viewer's head with the film's message with a hammer, in the case we haven't got it figured out, since it is oh so hard to comprehend what the director Frank Darabont is trying to tell us.
The characters couldn't be more card-board if Darabont tried (and this is the guy who did write, better said adapt some wonderful characters in The Shawshank Redemption). You have the good guy who can't do no wrong in Thomas Jane [SPOILER](don't worry, I'll get to the ending in a bit)[/SPOILER], you've got the good fair lady in Laurie Holden's character, the utterly dumb blue-collar creep (I hope William Sadler got a good paycheck, since it would be painful to play such a plastic character... for me anyway), the sceptic and utter denial guy (Andre Braugher, WTF? Ever since your brilliant work in Homicide you seemed to go AWOL). The actions of these characters are all so painfully clichéd and predictable, and there is not a single moment where any of these start to show any layers whatsoever (there's Jane always being a brave knight, there's Sadler always being a babbling coward, there's Braugher in his denial mode even though he is aware there are people dead under mysterious circumstances...Must I go on?).
The only character I did find reasonably executed was Marcia Gay Harden's gleefully malicious religious fanatic Mrs. Carmody, which was a character that was delightful to hate (unlike other main characters that should have been likeable... Nice try, Mr.Darabont). Even though I find the religious/extremist angle the only interesting thing in the movie, even that seemed underdeveloped (Jane's character wakes up after one day and Carmody already has most of the power in the store - none of the characters in Carmody's control were believable and seemed like caricatures - ditto on Sadler's character).
And something that needs to be touched upon is the "controversial" ending, which I find downright laughable (and surprising that Stephen King actually liked this changed version from the novella).
[SPOILER]For some unknown reason, there is not a single attack from the monsters as soon as our heroes get into the car and manage to escape from the market premises. But if we go beyond that, we can marvel their stupidity once more - instead of finding a shelter (hell, they've managed to survive in the interior for 3-4 days) or another car before the fuel went out in their car (as there were no monster sightings since the market), they decide to drive it until there's no more fuel left on an open road, so they can stay there afterwards like sitting ducks (yeah, they tried to escape the mist, but you can start to have a plan B at least 10 minutes before the fuel goes out, right? Too bad I hadn't had a plan B to escape this trainwreck). The characters decide to finish their horrible fate by ways of suicide. Jane's character walks out of the car, revolted by what he has done and by his own horrible acting (to tell you the truth, I blame Darabont's direction - Laurence Olivier couldn't make that believable) and suddenly - FROM THE DIRECTION THEY'VE DRIVEN BEFORE - there are hundreds of soldiers approaching, burning everything as they go. Another 20 seconds of Thomas Jane shrieking because he has just killed 4 people (including his kid) in vain and me laughing by his performance and the whole absurdity of this scenario. So, all this driving and they've managed to miss so many tanks and soldiers, survivors being salvaged (or more importantly, the other way around)... Makes me laugh just thinking of it![/SPOILER] It's nice to see Darabont trying to avoid your typical Hollywood happy ending cliche, but I've seen plenty of crappy happy endings that made a lot more sense than this.
[SPOILER]God that ramble turned out to be a lot bigger than I had planned. Any thoughts?[/SPOILER]