Ok, maybe a cult hit like The Mist doesn’t really fit into this “you might have missed it on Netflix” mantra that Flicks On ‘Flix is championing but I want to write about this film for two reasons. One, many wrongly associate it with John Carpenter’s The Fog or worse still the awful remake of said film. Aside from the weather there are no similarities between these films. Secondly, those who have seen it… Well… They haven’t liked it. So here I stand, the last line of defence for The Mist. Let’s dig in.
I can remember reading Stephen King’s original short story, on which this film is based, back in my teens and being more affected by it than anything I had read before. Some people get this from a hard hitting semi fiction about an historical atrocity, some get it from the greatest love stories of our time but for me the true dread King tapped into here was exquisite. Frank Darabont had made it known for a time that he wished to get a film adaptation off the ground and with the likes of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption to his name, we King faithful were enthused. As it always does with Darabont however, the path took a turn and things were anything but smooth throughout production, but more on that later.
The Mist revolves around a number of small town residents trapped in a shopping centre after an eerie, dense mist descends on the land. Jeffrey DeMunn comes screaming into the shop hollering about “Something in the mist!” and that is enough for the group to take his word on it and stay put. And so we find ourselves occupying this nugget of humanity wherein people try to cope with the fatality of the outside world, and whether or not they can find it in themselves to carry on in the face of impending doom.
Much like The Walking Dead, Darabont’s next project after this, The Mist is mostly concerned with how far society falls once any order is removed from the equation and how quickly it gets to that low point. Within this environment we see some strong wills, and also some meek citizens ready to give up hope. The latter mostly flock to to Mrs Carmody, a religious zealot played superbly by Marcia Gay Harden. The story is a little heavy handed on the religion debate, sure, but her Christianity is also irrelevant – these people just want some form of solace once they’ve witnessed a glimpse of the horror that awaits outside.
I won’t go into the ending too much as that is an unforgivable spoiler to dish out but I do want to defend it a little. You’ll know it when you see it but there’s a scene in the third act if this film that draws massive criticism, specifically at Thomas Jane’s acting ability. All I will say is – nobody watching this has ever found themselves in that situation before so drop all comparison. Furthermore, that uncomfortable feeling that descends on you while watching it? That’s brought about due to this type of content being conveyed something close to realistically, not in an OTT melodramatic sense for once. I won’t dwell any longer but to say I wholeheartedly disagree with all the naysayers towards the ending, and always will.
One last thing, I know we’re working within the realms of Netflix here but this film was intended to be watched in black and white. Darabont saw it as a throwback to the fifties horror and sci-fi era and so filmed with the intention that it would be a grayscale release. Unfortunately, the studio thought otherwise and wouldn’t allow it, inevitably letting this one quietly slip out into the public domain relatively unheralded, which is a shame. As a result, you will find the blood FX are a little too cartoonish and the CGI at times is hit and miss. I would implore you to at least once see this film in its original colour grading, be that on the DVD release or by tricking about with your TV settings (even washed out is better than vivid colour). It is the definitive way to watch this gem.