The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont makes his fourth feature film, and the third which is based on the works of Stephen King. His two previous efforts (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) are among the most universally renowned films of the 1990s, and they made Darabont a big name in the business as well as elevated the reputation of King in Hollywood from dubious (to put it mildly) to solid. King, who has become a somewhat commercialized and repetitive novelist, has shown that at his best, he is capable of creating enthralling horror stories and combine them with great characterizations and human insight. And, apart from Taylor Hackford, nobody has been able to translate these characterizations to the big screen as skilfully as Frank Darabont.
Principally, The Mist is a low-budget horror film with mediocre special effects which has more in common with The Langoliers than it has with Darabont's two previous King adaptations. The basic sci-fi premise is not necessarily anything out of the ordinary, but King's incredible talent for sociological observations and understanding of the human psyche and interaction makes The Mist a fascinating and suspenseful study. There have been numerous films about alien invasion and the scare of different lifeforms with tentacles, horrific sets of teeth and what have you. This film has all these recycled elements, but here they are only secondary tools in creating tension and suspense. The secret here, in addition to the competent interpersonal portrayal, is the portrayal of what we cannot see. The Mist is not about the realization of creatures and monsters, it's about not knowing and not being able to grasp a situation - a level which most modern horror films never pays much attention to.
The ending of this film has been subject of much debate, but if there is one thing everyone can agree on, it is that it is unconventional. Some will argue that it is distasteful and illogical, but these arguments will be missing the point. There is no intent of tastefulness when trying to depict the ultimate desperation and human breakdown, and the time-span (which has been attacked as illogical) is, in my opinion, poetic more than anything else. It sums up the entire point King and Darabont is trying to make here, which is about human behaviour in extreme situations. This story is almost thirty years old, but the relevance of King's comments on this matter is higher than ever. And as often has been when King's work has been adapted to film, the horror in The Mist is secondary - thus also more effective.