As a Stephen King fan I’ve always enjoyed Frank Darabont adapting his stories. Their relationship goes way back, all in all Darabont was one of the first Dollar Babies.and he directed both The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile so he knows a thing or two about adapting King. He had the rights for The Mist for ages and he originally wanted to make it his directing debut, but it took him a lot longer than that. The Mist came out in 2007.
I had to wait a bit more though. In Spain it came out on 2008 so I went to see as soon as I could. It’s not my favourite Frank Darabont adaptation but it was one of my most memorable cinema experiences. I watched it in a completely empty cinema, apart from me obviously. I went to the multiplex in my hometown at the very first session (around half past four) so I was completely alone. And that made me feel that film differently. The ending hit me really hard, especially since I was the only person there.
Earlier this week I found a cheap DVD copy so I bought it specifically for one reason. Darabont originally wanted to make the film in black and white. The studio didn’t let him so then he decided to release a black and white version on DVD. I never got round to seeing that version, and I hadn’t rewatched the film at all since that day nine years ago, and this article gave me the perfect excuse.
So, what’s it about?
The Mist takes place in a New England town, as usual with King. After a storm David Drayton (Thomas Jane) goes to a supermarket with his son to buy supplies and stuff to repair his house. Electricity isn’t really working, phone lines are down, and to make things worse a thick mist surrounds the entire town so people take shelter in that supermarket. Because there are things in the mist. But the real monsters are some of the people in that supermarket.
Apart from Thomas Jane this movie has actors like Toby Jones, Andre Braugher, Laurie Holden, and Marcia Gay Harden. Marcia Gay Harden is terrific in her role as Mrs. Carmody, she’s chilling, creepy and magnetic. Her charater is definitely the most terrifying thing in this film.
There are many things about this film that I love, but the main one is the following. David Drayton paints film posters for a living. When the movie starts we see stuff like the poster for John Carpenter‘s The Thing but the one that made me lose it is the one he’s seen painting.
HE’S PAINTING A DARK TOWER POSTER! When I saw this in the cinema I lost it. Apparently Darabont once asked King about directing The Dark Tower. King said something like “You’ve already adapted a lot of my stuff, let someone else do it!”
Why black and white? And does it work?
In a short interview available before the film Darabont says that while there’s no director’s cut this is his preferred version of the film. He says that King was inspired by black and white films while writing the story. And Darabont admits to thinking of black and white films like Night of the Living Dead or Ray Harryhausen‘s films.
I liked the black and white version more. Even though it had been so long since I watched it I remembered plenty from the film. But this cut made it feel different, more threatening, scary. And the monsters look better, the CGI was a bit iffy in colour and they look much better here.
All in all, this isn’t a film that you should watch to feel good. The ending will kill you, it killed me back then and it did now. The ending is one of the few things that Darabont changed from the story, a change that King apparently loved. This ending is devastating and unforgiving. And it doesn’t help that in the lead-up to it you hear this Dead Can Dance song.
It doesn’t help at all. Don’t watch this film at night or when you’re feeling sad, that’s another thing that won’t help.
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.