Stephen King has created another masterpiece. He is a truly gifted storyteller, able to capture the essence of fear in all its forms, and there are many. There is obvious fear, perhaps signified by the presence of a monster, creature, alien, maybe even an axe-wielding psychopath. Then there are the more sinister types of fear…fear of the unknown, fear in the presence of unseen evil. There is terror, which may be all the different types of fear rolled into one. In any event, King (along with screenwriter Frank Darabont) has mastered the art of creeping you the fuck out, and I don’t think I scare too easily. You may think The Mist is a horror movie, and to a large extent that would be an accurate assumption. But it’s much, much more than that. It is just as much of a study in psychology and human behavior as it is a horror movie.
The film is set in a sleepy Maine(?) town that is enveloped by a mysterious mist that wafts in following a strong storm. A number of residents become trapped in a small grocery store when the mist first appears, and it is here where most of the action transpires. What’s the big deal about mist, you ask? There’s something in it that snatches you up, never to be seen or heard from again, except for your dying screams. Believe it or not, that’s not even the scary part. The most frightening aspect of the film is its examination of human behavior and group mentality when societal constraints crumble and the true nature of man is revealed. If the shit is hitting the fan and you’re possibly facing armageddon, there are worse places to be trapped than the supermarket, right? You would think that adults could survive for quite a while, considering that food and shelter are plentiful. Not so. In the face of disaster and fear, chaos erupts, with chilling results. I was reminded of one of my favorite books from high school, Lord of the Flies. What is the true nature of man? Good or evil? This question is posed directly and becomes a driving force in the film. Thomas Jane (The Punisher) is the main character who grapples with the more difficult choices, and Marcia Gay Harden (The Invisible) portrays his foil, a vocal religious zealot who personifies the danger of “groupthink,” the phenomenon by which people lose sense of themselves and behave in ways they normally would not when they are allowed to cloak themselves in the anonymity of a group setting.
The Mist is a frightening, riveting movie that leaves you feeling something deep inside and will leave you reeling, kinda like The Sixth Sense may have done years ago. In some ways it’s the most powerful, penetrating movie I’ve seen all year. Don’t see it alone like I did, see it with someone so the two of you can appreciate it together.