When it comes to horror movies it is difficult to come up with a concept that delivers a truly horrifying experience. While The Ring and Silent Hill succeeded in making psychological-horror films (in my opinion), others rely on the gradual increase of disturbing violin which ends in some window breaking or a werewolf leaping out from the closet.
The Mist is a Stephen King novella adaptation which fails miserably. I am sure that the novella is a good read, because the story is obviously deeper than what is provided in the movie. But the movie itself is just a sad affair from beginning to right-before-the-end.
As the name implies, a pretty little town is shrouded in mysterious mist which – surprise surprise – kills anyone who dares to venture outside in a bloody mess. Our cast of main characters and over 30 supporting characters are all trapped in a supermarket whilst they think over the best way out.
Given the premise, you’d be surprised how little scare the actual mist provides, since most of the movie is shot inside the supermarket. What is even sadder is when the things in the mist start to appear and you’d realize the absurdity of the movie. The fog in Silent Hill is used into good effect and the creatures were disturbing. Here, the mist is just there to limit the shooting scenes to the supermarket and the nearby pharmacy when our heroes do eventually decide to take the risk.
Strangely, most of the focus on the story isn’t really about surviving what the mist dishes out against the occupants of the supermarket, but rather about the relationship between the people there. While the premise is good, pitting a religious fanatic and the newly converts against the “logical” group tries to explore the fundamentals of politics and religion and human behaviour, the film adaptation fails in fleshing these concepts out well.
In fact, it can get bad enough that these human interaction segments provide a comic relief from the rest of the movie. On ink and paper, the conversations and ideas could have been good but didn’t translate well. In the theatre, people – including us – were actually laughing during some conversations and some predictable demise and dismemberment of some characters.
What is worse than the script is the acting, save for the religious preacher (Marcia Gay Harden) who does a great job being serious and preachy. Equally bad is the 3D CGI of some elements, which quality is inconsistent during the course of the movie. The opening scene begins with a storm rendered all wrong – which I find surprising because a regular storm-seen-through-a-window is a no-brainer in movies. Whatever is in the mist is not rendered in a realistic way as well. Creatures appears a bit too plastic or too rubbery. The animation itself is OK but the character designs are just ridiculous and ripped out of any Dungeons & Dragons-based video game.
Don’t let me start on the music… the little of it that is there anyway.
What IS good about the movie though, is the final sections and especially the ending. Too bad they’re not really worth sitting the movie for.