The Mist (***)

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Stephen King’s novella “The Mist” was, as King says himself, his attempt at a B-movie. It was intense, well written and really, really scary. I remember sitting in my room at three in the morning reading the story, and thinking to myself this is a really stupid idea. Since just about everything Stephen King has ever written has been made into a movie, it was only a matter of time before they’d get to “The Mist.” Luckily, the man who “got” to it was Frank Darabont, a filmmaker who’s no stranger to adapting King’s work. Perhaps you’ve heard of his films The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile?The Mist, which is the first Stephen King story Darabont has filmed that wasn’t about prison life, concerns a small Maine town where a mysterious, get this, mist rolls in to the neighborhood. Before too long, a large group of people are stranded in a grocery store, where they must band together in order to survive. Of course, there’s tension in the group, and doesn’t help the a mentally unhinged self-proclaimed holy woman claims that this is the end of days, and that blood must be spilled as sacrifice to the almighty.I liked this movie, it’s a good monster movie, with plenty of thrills and chills. It’s also, I feel, darker and more politically motivated than the novella. The film, for me at least, works as an allegory for the war in Iraq. In my mind, it’s a pretty obvious connection (then again, I felt that 300 was also obviously about the war.) The ending, which is substantially different from the original ending, is bound to cause debate amongst audiences.Thomas Jane does a good turn as the everyman hero, and, despite all of the criticism surrounding her character, Marcia Gay Harden does fine work as Mrs. Carmody, the diabolical holy woman who brainwashes a large number of the stranded with promises of redemption and salvation. If you’ve read the book, you’ll realize that Harden’s interpretation is not over-acting. Darabont regulars Jeffrey DeMunn and William Sadler give life to the standard supporting roles they’re assigned, and Toby Jones is well-cast as Ollie, the man child bag “boy”. Yes, the character’s are card-board, but the performances are very strong. And Andre Braugher gets to give some pretty good speeches.The film loses some of the ambiguity of the book that added to the terror (to give any examples would be ruining both the movie and the book for you), but Darabont has made an entertaining and thought-provoking monster movie.

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