After a freak thunderstorm knocks out the power in his home, artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) decides to take his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) in to town for supplies. Fate intervenes and adds neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) along for the ride. While David and Brent have been at odds over a homeowner’s dispute, they put on happy faces for Billy’s sake. Upon reaching town a strange mist floods in, making seeing further than 15 feet or so impossible. As the townsfolk converge on the local shopping mart they hear their neighbors being attacked and presumably killed in the mist.
In the store, factions start building: Those who want to venture in to the mist to rescue loved ones, those convinced it’s all fake, those convinced it is real and deadly, and those convinced it’s the act of a wrathful god determined to bring an apocalypse to the unbelievers.
Leading the latter is Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) a holy-roller fanatic who believes she is both prophet of and witness to end times and only prayer and repentance will satisfy god, tho some ritual sacrifice might be called for along the way.
Ultimately David leads an expedition to bring back meds to those who have faced the denizens of the mist, and when things turn for the worst he hatches a plan to get out via any means necessary.
The Production: 4.5/5
Stephen King has decades of experience weaving in Lovecraftian themes into his universe of tales, and The Mist is, in my opinion, his greatest triumph in this endeavor. King excels at bringing well developed characters with conflicts and opposing motivations together and letting them duke things out as chaos falls around them. In his short story The Mist he perfected this while adapting the Lovecraft mythos for a modern age, giving his characters meaningful drives and heart wrenching motivations.
2007’s The Mist brought this to the big screen with powerful characterization by leading character actors who truly grokked their subjects. Jane’s protective nature echo’s his Punisher performance while simply being the dad next door. Harden revels in being the villain who is fully committed to their belief that their world view is the only true one. And Braugher nails it as the wild card. Will Brent stand with David or will the ill will between them cause tragic downfall for them?
Ultimately it is the ending of the film (which nails the novella’s identical telling) which elevates the horror for me, way beyond the somewhat lackluster effects. In a world without hope how can you live with your actions if the horrors have been vanquished beyond what anyone thought possible? It also is why the film likely never made a cultural dent after all, audiences want that sweet happy ending, and there are none to be found in the Eldritch Horrors, even if the good guys technically win.
3D Rating: NA
Presented here are both Blu-Ray and UHD copies of the film on separate disks, and once again both of them in black and white on 2 more disks. I reviewed the UHD in its entirety, skimmed the UHD B&W, and watched the Digital Copy with my folks who had never seen the film. I did not crack open the Bluray versions.
The UHDs and the digital stream are all terrific. My pick is the UHD disk itself, the B&W version is a cool effect but not something I felt necessary, tho I’m told it is director Frank Darabont’s recommendation.
The UHD has a solid cheerful color palette until the mist rolls in, then becomes dreary and stark. Details are solid with minimal noise.
I love practical effects in general and would choose them over CG 99% of the time, but I felt they don’t hold up particularly well in 4K and less so in B&W 4K. YMMV.
The Mist was shot in Panavision using Panavision cameras and lenses.
I had previously seen The Mist in a cruddy shoe box multiplex and don’t recall the sound being anything great. The new Atmos mix here is engaging and fun with nice use of overheads and sporadic .1 thumps.
Special Features: 4.5/5
Alternate black-and-white version
Audio commentary with writer-director Frank Darabont and producer Denise Hunt
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Frank Darabont
A Conversation with Stephen King and Frank Darabont
These total over two hours of extras. The ones I picked through were fun and informative, and you rarely get to hear King pick apart his own work so I recommend starting there.
The Mist is tied for me with The Road as being one of the bleakest takes on what we would do to protect our children in the face of annihilation. While I don’t have kids myself both are able to convey the sheer exhaustion of facing those challenges and making impossible decisions. King is my favorite writer, I have read everything of his I can get my hands on, and Lovecraft is near the top of the list for me too. But Lovecraft doesn’t have King’s empathy or heart, so combining those two worldviews was always going to be a smash hit in my book. Unlike so many of the other King adaptations The Mist doesn’t stray at all from King’s vision, and it is all the better for it.
Sam is both a moderator and reviewer at Home Theater Forum and is the voice behind Home Theater United, the Home Theater Forum Podcast which he started with cofounder Brian Dobbs. Sam has long advocated modest, best “bang for the buck” theater components and is loving every minute of this golden age of home audio-visual magic. Sam is a software engineer, a former volunteer firefighter, a current planning commissioner, leader of a large board gaming group and the personal servant of two tuxedo cats.
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