Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Mist, (Thanet Extra, Friday 4th July)

Stephen King adaptations can go either way. Sometimes, you get movie-magic though, as when Frank Darabont adapted the screenplay for The Shawshank Redemption.

He directs his third feature with The Mist, which is based on a King novella considered by some to be one of his scariest.

In the small town of Bridgton, Maine, Dave Drayton (Thomas Jane) sees a peculiar mist rolling down from the nearby lake after a lightning storm. He shrugs it off and heads off to the supermarket with son Billy, and Brent, a less-than-neighbourly neighbour. They arrive at the same time as military vehicles from the local base, as stories of Project Arrowhead and paranormal experiments are voiced.

Soon the mist descends over the town centre and a man runs bleeding into the supermarket, "There is something out there in the mist and it's killing people." With the doors shut, 80 people are holed-up, with marauding beasties at large outside.

There are two strands to this horror hokum. The first one is the creatures, who range from giant insects, to razor-teeth lined tentacles to some even bigger monsters. Some of these effects are well realised, some are below par CGI. Look out though for some very nasty behaviour by mutated spiders that will please body-horror fans.

The other terrifying agent is actually human, in the form of a character called Miss Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) who dominates proceedings as an aggressive Evangelist, who thinks God's wrath is bringing these plagues upon the townsfolk for their sins. She actually succeeds in splitting the survivors, turning man against man, in a strand of the film which is heavy-handed and not as profound as they think it is.

Overall, this is not much more than a solid chiller. Had they concentrated on the survival-horror, over the social commentary, it would have been more of a must-see.

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