Dir: Frank Darabont. US. 2007. 127mins.
Frank Darabont and Dimension Films go back to the Stephen King well for The Mist, an enjoyably old school horror outing - with sci-fi undertones and some CG beasties - based on a vintage yarn by the mega-selling author. Though it probably won't match the success of Darabont's 1999 version of King's The Green Mile and might not take as much as Dimension's recent King-based hit 1408, this latest branded adaptation should be able to recoup its apparently meager budget at the box
office and then deliver good ancillary returns.

Distributing in the US for Weinstein Co/Dimension, MGM opens the R-rated film wide next week for the long Thanksgiving weekend. The companies may be hoping that the holiday release will produce the same kind of counter-programming result as the launch of the PG-13-rated 1408 did last summer. Outside the US, independent distributors that have acquired The Mist from Weinstein may have to pick their release dates to avoid competition with flashier, gorier horror offerings aimed at younger genre fans.
Darabont - who also, of course, wrote and directed 1994 King-based drama The Shawshank Redemption - does a smart job adapting the author's 1980 novella. He zips through the storm that damages the lakeside home of artist David Drayton (Jane) and leaves a mysterious mist in its wake. Then he shifts the scene to the supermarket where David, his young son Billy, and other local residents have gathered to pick up supplies and discuss the freakish weather.
Soon, the mist has engulfed the market - and whatever is in the mist has started picking off anyone foolish enough to leave the building.
From then on, Darabont emphasizes the story's psychological horror (the aspect of King's work that seems to produce the best box
office results). Fear of the unknown begins to turn the stranded shoppers against one another and a Lord of the Flies scenario ensues pitting blue-collar locals against wealthy weekenders and Bible-thumping religious fanatic Mrs Carmody (Harden) against the town's 'sinners.'
Darabont makes some significant changes to King's story, most notably adding a more conclusive and surprisingly dark ending. And he covers a lot of the action in a hand-held style - credited to director of photography Rohn Schmidt, best known for edgy TV cop show The Shield - that adds a sense of urgency and chaos.
The sci-fi comes in when the things in the mist - apparently let in from a parallel universe by a botched military experiment - start to emerge. There are over-sized bugs and prehistoric-looking birds that feed on them; giant spiders that use human bodies to incubate their young; and much bigger - though usually only half-seen - monsters that make short work of human victims. The effects used to depict the creatures aren't state-of-the-art but they're good enough in this pleasantly hokey context.
Good casting of mid-level actors gives the film another dimension that's often missing from genre projects. Jane (from The Punisher and 2003 King adaptation Dreamcatcher) provides the story with a nicely low-key hero and Harden is subtly creepy as the deranged Mrs Carmody. Among the supporting players are Andre Braugher (TV's Homicide: Life On The Street) as David's snotty neighbour and British actor Toby Jones (Infamous) as the level- headed supermarket manager.
Frank Darabont

Production companies
Dimension Films (US)

US distribution

International distribution
Weinstein Co

(1) 646 862 3400

Frank Darabont
Liz Glotzer

Frank Darabont

based on the novella by Stephen King

Rohn Schmidt

Production design
Gregory Melton

Costume design
Giovanna Ottobre-Melton

Hunter Via

Mark Isham

Main cast
Thomas Jane
Marcia Gay Harden
Andre Braugher
Laurie Holden
Toby Jones