Replay: The Mist

Frank Darabont is about as much of a stranger to Stephen King adaptations as I am to having my taste in films laughed at, having previously directed both the Oscar-winning version of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, respectively. With his next one, however, he progresses from the few non-genre offerings King occasionally puts forward to some of the God-among-writers' vintage horror-scifi.

The Mist charts the fortunes of a group of - as ever - Maine-based small-town folk who become stranded in a supermarket when an unnatural mist descends and surrounds the building. Wary that the fog may be toxic, it is only cautiously that a few of the scared shoppers venture out, only to discover that various malicious and alien creatures lurk inside, and they're not herbivores...

This being King, the film is as concerned with the market-dwellers descent into primitivism and savagery as cool alien monsters; and Darabont shares his macabre obsessions and pushes them even further. King's original ambiguous ending, which itself echoed the finale of the story that would become Hitchcock's The Birds, is drawn out to a logical, but gut-wrenching conclusion.

In truth, it goes too far. We don't necessarily need a happy ending, but nor do we want to come out of the cinema wanting to kill ourselves; particularly when there isn't really a message or point to the misery, approved by King though it may be. This kind of "mullered" approach to the twist ending worked for anthology shows like The Outer Limits, but it's hard to swallow when you've spent two hours investing in a group of characters who are struggling to survive.

This melodrama comes across like a TV movie and it's not the only facet of The Mist that does. To be harshly accurate, it looks cheap; the creatures are brilliantly designed, if derivative of everything from Alien to Cloverfield, but the money spent on the CGI is contrary to the cheap hazy cinematography and earnest staffers in the cast. Only Thomas Jane, a professional B-movie star, stands out above the pack.

Still, to deride The Mist for its faults is like rejecting it because it's not as good as Citizen Cane; after years of torture porn, Scream wannabes, films not scary enough to make a three-year old fart and remakes, a refreshingly-intelligent and well-crafted horror with a point is not something to be sneezed at.

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