The Mist (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Darabont|
|Produced by||Frank Darabont
|Screenplay by||Frank Darabont|
|Based on||The Mist
by Stephen King
Marcia Gay Harden
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Editing by||Hunter M. Via|
|Running time||126 minutes|
The Mist (also known as Stephen King's The Mist) is a 2007 American science fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously adapted Stephen King's works The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Darabont had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s. The film features an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Samuel Witwer, Toby Jones, Nathan Gamble, Andre Braugher, Frances Sternhagen future Walking Dead actors Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa McBride.
Darabont began filming The Mist in Shreveport, Louisiana in February 2007. The director revised the ending of the film to be darker than the novella's ending, a change to which King was amenable. He also sought unique creature designs to differentiate his from creatures in past films. The Mist was commercially released in the United States and Canada on November 21, 2007; it performed well at the box office and received generally positive reviews.
Although a monster movie, the central theme explores what ordinary people will be driven to do under extraordinary circumstances. The plot revolves around members of the small town of Bridgton, Maine who, after a severe thunderstorm causes the power to go out the night before, meet in a supermarket to pick up supplies. While they struggle to survive an unnatural mist which envelops the town and conceals vicious, otherworldly monsters, extreme tensions rise among the survivors.
A morning after a violent thunderstorm, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a graphic artist, and his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) check the damage. They find many broken windows and their boathouse collapsed to the grounds, with the boat also damaged, and also a power outage. David decides to go to the local grocery store to buy supplies, bringing his eight-year-old son, Billy (Nathan Gamble), and also his neighbor, Brent Norton (Andre Braugher). Along a way, they hear a tornado siren and a convoy of military trucks.
When they arrive at the store, they find it crowded with people who are also recovering from the storm. The power grid has gone down, leaving the store with only a generator for the refrigeration units. As the town's tornado sirens go off, a panicked man with a bloody nose, Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn), runs into the store warning of something dangerous in the oncoming mist, which envelops the store making it impossible to see outside. After hearing several screams from outside as well as experiencing a sudden earthquake, the patrons begin to develop a siege mentality.
Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a religious fanatic, believes that this is the beginning of Armageddon. A visibly shaken woman (Melissa McBride) exclaims that she must return to her children, whom she left at home. She implores the others for help, but in the end, leaves alone. Shortly afterward, David and Billy befriend a teacher named Amanda Dumfries (Laurie Holden), a colleague of the well-liked Irene Reppler (Frances Sternhagen). David, as well as mechanics Myron (David Jensen), Jim (William Sadler), bag-boy Norm (Chris Owen), and assistant manager Ollie Weeks (Toby Jones), investigates the loading bay generator and finds that the exhaust vent is plugged.
To power up the generator, Norm volunteers to go outside and unplug the vent. When the door is opened, Norm is suddenly snatched and devoured by a mass of otherworldly huge tentacles with spikes on them. Panicked, they run back to the store. The group convinces most of the survivors that there are dangerous creatures outside, but Norton and a few other skeptics decide to venture outside to seek rescue. A biker volunteers to be tied to a rope and accompany Norton's group outside the store in order to retrieve a shotgun in Ambrose Cornell's (Buck Taylor) car and so that David can measure how far Norton and the others can go. After disappearing into the mist, the rope is suddenly dragged, and David pulls it back to find only the man's severed lower body at the end of it.
At night, enormous flying insects land on the windows and pterodactyl-like animals prey on them, eventually causing the glass to break. Two people, including Billy's babysitter, are killed and one is badly burned. Mrs. Carmody is mysteriously spared by one of the insects when she prays. After the invasion, Mrs. Carmody starts fire-and-brimstone preaching and quickly gains followers among the distraught survivors. David and a group of volunteers attempt to retrieve medical supplies for the burnt victim from the neighboring pharmacy. The pharmacy appears to be empty, but its patrons have been ensnared in webs. David's party also discovers an MP who has been webbed to a pillar. The MP gasps that the mist was "their fault" and his chest is covered with large pustules which then burst into many small spiders. David's party is then attacked by dozens of otherworldly spider-like monsters. Two members of David's party are killed by the acidic webbing of the spider creatures, and the surviving members flee the pharmacy with the supplies.
At the store, two of the soldiers have committed suicide and the remaining soldier, Private Jessup (Samuel Witwer), reveals that the local military base was filled with rumors about Project Arrowhead - an attempt to look into other dimensions, but the scientists responsible for the experiment may have inadvertently opened a doorway into a dimension containing the creatures that surround them. Jim, who since the trip to the pharmacy has become an ardent follower of Mrs. Carmody, overhears this discussion and drags Private Jessup before Mrs. Carmody, revealing that the soldiers and the Arrowhead project are responsible for their plight. Mrs. Carmody whips the congregation into a killing fury, urging them to sacrifice Jessup so that the creatures will leave them alone. Jessup is repeatedly stabbed and thrown out of the store, where he is grabbed by a large praying mantis-like creature and eaten.
David and a handful of rational survivors secretly gather supplies and embrace David's earlier idea to flee. The next morning David and his group attempt to leave, but are intercepted by Mrs. Carmody, who destroys the supplies and again begins to whip her followers into a frenzy. She orders her followers to sacrifice Billy and Amanda and then kill David and the other non-believers, but is gunned down by Ollie, causing almost all of her horrified followers to come to their senses. With the cult destroyed, David and his group are allowed to leave and hastily run out of the market. While running to David's car, Ollie, Myron and Ambrose are killed by creatures, while store manager Bud Brown (Robert Treveiler) is lost in the confusion and runs back to the market in desperation. The remaining members of David's group, namely David himself, Amanda, Irene, Dan and Billy make it to the car and retrieve Amanda's gun (which Ollie had used on Mrs. Carmody and several creatures). They drive past the store window, as Bud and Mrs. Carmody's ex-followers watch.
Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his house destroyed and his wife dead, webbed into a corner. Heartbroken and in tears, he drives the group south, seeing destruction and a gigantic tentacled beast, hundreds of feet tall, that casually strides past them. After hours of traveling, they run out of gas and pull over. While Billy is sleeping, the four adults collectively decide that there is no point in going on. With four bullets left in Amanda's gun and five people in the car, David promises that he'll "figure something out" and then shoots the other four.
Distraught and determined to die, David exits the vehicle in anguish. He turns towards a loud approaching rumble and out of the mist comes a self-propelled artillery vehicle, followed by a squad of soldiers equipped with NBC suits and flamethrowers to kill the monsters. The mist recedes and several trucks of soldiers and survivors pass David. Among them is the woman who walked out by herself along with her two young children. Realizing that they were only moments from being rescued and that he just killed four people including his own son needlessly, a distraught and heartbroken David falls to his knees screaming while soldiers look on in confusion.
- Thomas Jane as David Drayton, a commercial painter and film-poster artist who is trapped in the market with his young son Billy.
- Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody, a fanatically religious local woman.
- Laurie Holden as Amanda Dumfries, a young, married teacher whose husband is away.
- Andre Braugher as Brent Norton, David's neighbor and a successful New York attorney who filed a lawsuit against David in the past year and lost.
- Toby Jones as Ollie Weaks, the assistant manager of the supermarket.
- William Sadler as Jim Grondin, a local mechanic.
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Dan Miller, a normal civilian who is the first to see the signs of danger from the mist.
- Frances Sternhagen as Irene Reppler, a third-grade elementary school teacher. Despite being elderly, she is very tough, competent and is always calm and collected.
- Nathan Gamble as Billy Drayton, David's eight-year-old son.
- Alexa Davalos as Sally, a cashier at the market who is Billy's babysitter.
- Chris Owen as Norm, a bag-boy.
- Samuel Witwer as Private Wayne Jessup, a local soldier trapped in the market.
- Robert Treveiler as Bud Brown, the supermarket manager.
- David Jensen as Myron LaFleur, a local mechanic.
- Melissa McBride as Woman With Kids at Home
- Buck Taylor as Ambrose Cornell, an elderly man who sides with David's group.
- Brian Libby as Biker
- Juan Gabriel Pareja as Morales
- Kelly Collins Lintz as Stephanie "Steff" Drayton, David's wife.
- Ron Clinton Smith as Mr. Mackey, the store butcher.
Director Frank Darabont first read Stephen King's 1980 novella The Mist in the Dark Forces anthology, and originally expressed interest in directing a film adaptation for his directing debut. He instead filmed The Shawshank Redemption, also based on another King novella. In October 1994, after completing The Shawshank Redemption, Darabont reiterated his interest in filming The Mist. Darabont did not immediately follow through, instead directing the 1999 film adaptation of Stephen King's The Green Mile. Darabont eventually set up a first look deal for The Mist with Paramount Pictures, having been entrusted feature film rights by Stephen King. By December 2004, Darabont said that he had begun writing an adapted screenplay for The Mist, and by October 2006, the project moved from Paramount to Dimension Films, with Darabont attached to direct and actor Thomas Jane in negotiations to join the cast.
|"The story is less about the monsters outside than about the monsters inside, the people you're stuck with, your friends and neighbors breaking under the strain."|
|— Darabont on The Mist|
Director Darabont chose to film The Mist after filming the "straighter dramas" The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile because he "wanted to make a very direct, muscular kind of film." Darabont conceived of a new ending in translating the novella for the big screen. Author King praised Darabont's new ending, describing it as one that would be unsettling for studios. King said, "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."
Darabont described The Mist as quaint in its elements of monsters and fear of the unknown compared to the contemporary popularity of films with torture porn. The director saw The Mist as a throwback to Paddy Chayefsky and William Shakespeare, explaining, "It's people at each other." He highlighted the element of fear in the film in how it compelled people to behave differently. Darabont said, "How primitive do people get? It's Lord of the Flies that happens to have some cool monsters in it." He also drew parallels to The Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and the 1944 film Lifeboat.
In the novella, the character David Drayton - who is married - has a sexual encounter with Amanda Dumfries, who is also married. Darabont did not want to attempt conveying on screen the protagonist being involved in an extramarital affair. The characters in the film, portrayed by Thomas Jane and Laurie Holden respectively, instead share a more emotional relationship. Jane explained, "We kind of form a little family, sort of surrogate family where my son and I’m a father and she becomes the mother to the son. We become a little unit as we’re trying to get through this nightmare together." Holden compared the nightmare to what refugees experienced at the Louisiana Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.
While the origin of the mist is never explained in great details in the movie, Frank Darabont did write an opening scene in a draft dated 5 August 2005, in which the thunderstorm causes a malfunction at the Arrowhead Project's lab that allows the portal to another dimension to stay open too long. The scene was never filmed.
In December 2006, Jane finalized negotiations with the studio to join the cast. In January 2007, actors Andre Braugher and Laurie Holden joined Jane for the cast of The Mist. Production began the following February at StageWorks of Louisiana, a sound stage and movie production facility in Shreveport, Louisiana. Marcia Gay Harden and Toby Jones joined the cast later in the month.
William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Brian Libby, each of whom appeared in Darabont's previous Stephen King adaptations The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, were cast in supporting roles. Sadler had previously played Jane's role, David Drayton, in a 1986 audio book version of The Mist. Darabont wanted to cast King in the supporting role that eventually went to Brian Libby, an offer that King turned down because he did not want to travel to film the part.
Darabont sought to pursue "a more fluid, ragged documentary kind of direction" with The Mist, so he contacted the camera crew from the TV series The Shield, after having directed one episode, to use their style in the film. Darabont attempted to film The Mist digitally but found that it "wound up looking too beautiful". The director chose to film with 400 ASA from Fujifilm, which gave footage a grainy effect.
In the opening shot, David is drawing in his room. The drawing is based on Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and the drawing was actually painted by famous movie poster designer Drew Struzan. Darabont also put in re-productions of Struzan's posters and illustrations for The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, John Carpenter's The Thing, and Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, paying a tribute to him.
Darabont collaborated with the production designer to create a mix of eras to avoid appearing as a period piece but also not looking so contemporary. Cell phones were used by characters in The Mist, but the military police in the film did not dress in modern attire. While an MP also drove an old Jeep instead of a Humvee, other cars seen in the film are modern models. The city police cars in the beginning of the film are a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice and a 1988 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, cars that were standard police vehicles in the late 1980s but have not been used in force since the late 1990s.
Over a hundred extras from Shreveport, Louisiana were included in The Mist. Unlike conventional application of extras in the background of a film, sixty of the hundred extras were interwoven with the film's ensemble cast. Additional elements giving the film a local flavor include the prominence of local Louisiana brands such as Zapp's potato chips. Exterior shots of the house at the beginning were in Shreveport. Exterior shots of the supermarket were in Vivian, Louisiana. Also, if looked closely at, the shields on the side of the passing firetrucks early in the film identify them as part of the Caddo Parish fire department. This is possibly a mistake as the film is allegedly set in Maine.
Darabont chose to use music to minimal effect in The Mist in order to capture the "heavier feel" of the darker ending he had written to replace the one from the novella. The director explained, "Sometimes movie music feels false. I've always felt that silent can be scarier than loud, a whisper more frightening than a bang, and we wanted to create a balance. We kept music to a minimum to keep that vérité, documentary feel." Darabont chose to overlay the song "The Host of Seraphim" by the band Dead Can Dance, a spiritual piece characterized by wailing and chanting. As a fan of Dead Can Dance, Darabont thought that the song played "as a requiem mass for the human race." The original score was composed by Academy Award-nominated composer Mark Isham.
Darabont hired artists Jordu Schell and Bernie Wrightson to assist in designing the creatures for the film. Greg Nicotero worked on the film's creature design and make-up effects, while Everett Burrell served as the visual effects supervisor. Nicotero initially sketched out ideas for creature design when Darabont originally expressed interest in filming The Mist in the 1980s. When the project was greenlit, Nicotero, Burrell, and Darabont collaborated about the creature design at round-table meetings at CaféFX. The studio for visual effects had been recommended to Darabont by Guillermo del Toro after Darabont asked the director who created the visual effects for Pan's Labyrinth. Due to the creatures' being described in only a few sentences in the novella, Darabont sought to conceive of new designs. The challenge was to try and create the designs in such a way that they felt unique. Nicotero, who was versed in film history and genre history, reviewed past creature designs to avoid having similar designs. When the designs were completed, Nicotero and Burrell educated the cast on the appearance of the creatures by showing puppets and the function of their eyes and mouths. The puppet demonstrations served as reference points for the cast, who had to respond to motion capture dots during filming.
The Mist was screened at the film festival ShowEast on October 18, 2007, at which director Frank Darabont received the Kodak Award for Excellence in Filmmaking for his previous works The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
Critical reception 
On the film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, The Mist received a 73% approval rating, based on 139 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. On the website Metacritic, the film has received a metascore of 58 out of 100 based on 29 reviews.
James Berardinelli wrote of the film, "The Mist is what a horror film should be - dark, tense, and punctuated by just enough gore to keep the viewer's flinch reflex intact. ... Finally, after a long list of failures, someone has done justice in bringing one of King's horror stories to the screen. Though definitely not the feel-good movie of the season, this is a must-see for anyone who loves the genre and doesn't demand "torture porn" from horror." Roger Ebert was less positive, however, writing: "If you have seen ads or trailers suggesting that horrible things pounce on people, and they make you think you want to see this movie, you will be correct. It is a competently made Horrible Things Pouncing on People Movie. If you think Frank Darabont has equaled the Shawshank and Green Mile track record, you will be sadly mistaken."
Bloody Disgusting ranked the film #4 on their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "The scary stuff works extremely well, but what really drives this one home is Darabont’s focus on the divide that forms between two factions of the townspeople – the paranoid, Bible-thumping types and the more rational-minded, decidedly left-wing members of the populace. This allegorical microcosm of Bush Jr.-era America is spot on, and elevates an already-excellent film to even greater heights."
Box office 
The film was commercially released in the United States and Canada on November 21, 2007. Over the opening weekend in the United States and Canada, The Mist grossed $8,931,973. As of August 9, 2009, the film grossed $25,593,755 in the United States and Canada and $27,560,960 in other territories for a worldwide total of $57,289,103.
Home media 
The Mist was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 25, 2008. The single-disc includes an audio commentary by writer/director Frank Darabont, eight deleted scenes with optional commentary, and "A Conversation With Stephen King and Frank Darabont" featurette.
The two-disc edition includes an exclusive black-and-white presentation of the film, as well as the color version, and five featurettes ("When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist", "Taming the Beast: Shooting Scene 35", "Monsters Among Us: A Look at the Creature FX", "The Horror of It All: The Visual FX of The Mist", and "Drew Struzan: Appreciation of an Artist").
- Edward Douglas (2007-11-16). "An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Frank Darabont!". ShockTillYouDrop.com. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- "The Mist (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
- Stax (2007-07-28). "SDCC 07: Chatting in The Mist". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
- Michael Fleming (2006-10-18). "'Mist' envelops Dimension". Variety. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Patrick Z. McGavin (1994-10-04). "LONG LIVE THE KING". Chicago Tribune.
- "The Green Mile (1999)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "Frank Darabont on Adapting The Mist". ComingSoon.net. 2004-05-15. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Kent, Alexandyr (2007-03-23). "'A bad day at the market'". The Times.
- Breznican, Anthony (2007-06-20). "Stephen King adapts to Hollywood". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
- Rebecca Murray (2007-08-15). "Behind the Scenes of The Mist Based on a Stephen King Story". About.com. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
- "The Punisher Enters The Mist". IGN. 2006-12-06. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Borys Kit (2007-01-26). "Braugher, Holden float to 'Mist'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Alexandyr Kent (2007-01-19). "'The Mist' creeping into Shreveport". The Times.
- Michael Fleming (2007-02-21). "Actors will emerge from King's 'Mist'". Variety. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Edward Douglas (2007-07-27). "Comic-Con '07: Two Clips From The Mist!". ShockTillYouDrop.com. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Alexandyr Kent (2007-11-18). "The core of a horror flick: 'The Mist' features dozens of local extras". The Times. Retrieved 2007-11-20.[dead link]
- David Frese (2007-11-17). "Frank Darabont dares to alter a Stephen King classic: ‘The Mist’". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- "Jordu Schell: Avatar Lead Characters Designer". Avatar Movie Zone. Retrieved 2010-04-20.[dead link]
- Carl DiOrio (2007-10-16). "ShowEast to close high on Darabont". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- "Stephen King's The Mist". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Mist, The (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- Mist, The - A Film Review by James Berardinelli
- The Mist :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "The Mist (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
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