Film

Weather Isn't Really That Scary

Monsters Kind of Are, Though

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"SOMETHING IN THE MIST!!!" screams a frantic, bloodied, and fairly unsubtle old man as he sprints into a Maine supermarket. Seeing as how The Mist is an adaptation of a Stephen King novella, it doesn't take a genius to figure out whether Gramps is deranged or prophetic, and less than 30 minutes later, the unlucky grocery shoppers figure out what that something is: Monsters, as evidenced by some gropey, stabby tentacles that combine all the visual charms of penises, vaginas, and fangs. When the tentacles invade (RIP, naïve bagboy!), it's silly, but it works, since The Mist is a pretty silly movie. An old-school monster flick, it has no ambitions other than to be a dark, cheesy B movie.

With a few nods to other works in the voluminous King canon, writer/director Frank Darabont neatly translates King's straightforward plot: A bunch of stereotypes get trapped in a supermarket, eventually fighting off all sorts of monsters, from turkey-sized mosquitoes to screeching pterodactyls. In the meantime, there's a lot of debate about where the mist came from, whether it's an alien invasion or the end of days—but all of those Philosophy 101 discussions don't really go anywhere, since it's hard to be scared about man's inhumanity to man when there's a spider the size of a Buick spurting acidic goo at your face.

There's a lo-fi focus about The Mist that one has to admire—in an era where most horror films are needless remakes or exercises in torture porn, Darabont's template is one set by films like John Carpenter's The Thing and Ridley Scott's Alien, where the chills come from the basic situation of likeable-enough characters trying to survive in haunted houses. Indeed, both The Thing and Alien's sequel, Aliens, are winkingly referenced by Darabont in The Mist—as is King's The Dark Tower series, in what feels like a pretty obvious bid by Darabont to bring that chunk of western/horror pulp to the screen next. If The Mist is any indication, he might be the right guy for the job.

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