Thursday, September 23, 2010
The story couldn't be more simple: A mysterious mist blows into a rural Maine town, and it brings monsters along with it. The main characters are trapped in a supermarket as they try to weather the story and survive until the mist passes and the monsters go away. It was a very cool novella by Stephen King, about which I remember very little other than that I loved it when I read it years ago. This film changed a lot and had a completely different ending, but it was still very faithful in terms of plot and character and overall tone. The ensemble cast of characters definitely all seemed as though they walked right out of a Stephen King novel. And the monsters were fantastic.
This movie was just plain scary, and I say that as an admittedly jaded horror buff who has seen it and and usually can't be fazed anymore. But this film was really scary and suspenseful and riveting. This is the kind of movie where you find yourself curling your legs up on the couch because you're afraid something under your coffee table is going to climb out and chew your feet off. The characters in this movie don't just get eaten by monsters, but they sufferer some of the cruelest and most grueling deaths I've ever seen. It's awesome. There is one scene in particular where the characters sneak next door to the pharmacy in hopes of finding medicine or other survivors that had be chewing on my blanket in abject horror. I'm not going to give anything away, but what they found in there was one of the most unsettling and outright terrifying scenes from any move I've seen in years.
The acting was also very good across the board, although some of the dialogue and performances felt a little staged and unnatural. This was a film that could've benefited from overlapping dialogue and a few less one liners. When faced with unspeakable horrors like you'll find in this movie, it's hard to believe that every character has such great jokes slipping from their tongues. But Thomas Jane in particular was fantastic as our hero, and Marcia Gay Harden gave such an amazing performance that it kept her character from being too much of a cliched stereotype of an evangelical christian. Another criticism: if you are going to get Andre Braugher, use Andre Braugher. Don't just have him vanish at one point never to be seen again. I spent the entire movie wanting more Andre Braugher. I sure hope I spelled his name correctly.
About the ending, I can say very little other than that it wasn't what I was expecting, nor was it what I would've wanted. It certainly had nothing to do with the original ending as written by King. But it did work, without saying too much, with the overall dark, almost nihilistic tone of the film. After rewatching the ending with the director's commentary turned on, I understood what they were going for, but I'm still unconvinced that they were all that successful. But it didn't matter at that point because the movie had kept me so entertained, any movie would've been a let down because I just wanted it to keep going.