The Mist (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Darabont|
|Screenplay by||Frank Darabont|
|Based on||The Mist
by Stephen King
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Hunter M. Via|
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, William Sadler, Andre Braugher, Frances Sternhagen, and future The Walking Dead actors Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, 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 them from his 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.
One morning after a violent thunderstorm, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a graphic artist, and his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) check the damage. They find a large tree planted by David's grandfather has fallen on the house and another tree belonging to his next door neighbour Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) has demolished their boat-house and landing pier. David goes to ask the neighbour for his insurance details to pay for the damage to the boat-house.
As he is leaving the lakeside he and Stephanie notice a strange mist floating across the surface of the lake towards their property. Another tree has fallen on the neighbour's car and David commiserates with him, 'as it was a beautiful car'.
David decides to go to the local grocery store to buy supplies, bringing his eight-year-old son, Billy (Nathan Gamble), and his neighbour along. On the way, they see a convoy of military trucks. When they arrive at the store, they find it crowded with people who are also recovering from the storm. Suddenly, a tornado siren is heard and the power grid goes 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 quickly envelops the store, making it impossible to see outside.
Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a religious fanatic, believes that this is the beginning of Armageddon. A shaken woman (Melissa McBride) exclaims that she must return to her children, whom she left at home, and leaves, alone. David and others investigate the loading bay generator and find that the exhaust vent is plugged. Young bag-boy Norm (Chris Owen) volunteers to go outside and unplug the vent but as the roller-door is lifted he is snatched and despite David and Ollie Weeks (Toby Jones) the assistant store manager pulling at Norm to pry him out of the clutches of the otherworldly monster; he is taken by its multiple giant octopus-like tentacles with sharp teeth attached and devoured.
On returning to the main store, Norton doesn't believe their claims and is certain that David is playing a joke on him and the other men are backing him up, as pay-back for the lawsuit Norton filed against David last year. Norton, decides to go get help with several others. One of them agrees to tie a 300 ft length of cord around his waist and they will hold onto the other end in the store, therefore those in the store will know they have made it at least 300 ft from the store. As approximately half of the cord has been let out, of the store, it is suddenly pulled out at a great rate of knots and then goes limp. Those in the store are so worried about the fate of those outside, they start to pull the cord back in and as they do it turns bloody and they see that outside the store, they are pulling the lower half of a man's torso towards them. In desperation, the cord is cut free by someone inside the store and the doors are slammed shut to protect those left inside the store from an unseen monster, which shocks everyone.
They barricade the shop-front windows with a wall made of sacks of cat litter, pet food and other supplies. At night, enormous flying scorpion-like insects land on the windows and pterodactyl-like animals prey on them, eventually causing the glass to break. The breach allows some of the creatures to wreak havoc inside the grocery store. The insects have a deadly sting in their tails and two people are killed. Another person is badly burned in an attempt to set the creatures on fire. One of the insects lands on Mrs. Carmody and she is miraculously spared by one of the insects when she prays. She starts preaching and quickly gains followers among the distraught survivors.
People are starting to lose hope of ever leaving the store alive and one customer is found dead after taking an overdose of pain-killers. David discusses with a select few of his fear that Mrs. Carmody is winning over people to her 'God's Vengeance' religious reasons for the monsters wreaking havoc in the town and she is gaining followers ever since she was spared by the insects. David thinks he and some volunteers should venture out of the store to check on the nearby stores and possibly get help for those in the store.
David and a group of volunteers attempt to retrieve medical supplies for the burnt victim from the 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." David's party is then attacked by dozens of otherworldly spider-like monsters. Two members are killed, and the surviving members flee with the supplies. Despite their efforts the burn victim still dies from his injuries.
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, and the scientists responsible for the experiment may have inadvertently opened a doorway into a dimension containing the creatures that surround them. Mrs. Carmody whips the congregation into a killing fury, urging them to sacrifice Jessup so that the creatures will leave the rest of them alone. Jessup is repeatedly stabbed and thrown out of the store, where he is grabbed and devoured by a large praying mantis-like creature.
David and a handful of rational survivors secretly gather supplies to flee. The next morning, however, they are intercepted by Mrs. Carmody, who destroys the supplies and attempts to have David and the other non-believers killed, only to be killed herself by Ollie, the store's assistant manager. With the cultists returning to their senses following the death of their leader, David and his group are allowed to leave. While running to David's car, three people (including Ollie) are killed by creatures, while store manager Bud Brown is lost in the confusion and runs back to the store. The remaining members of David's group—Amanda, Irene, Dan, and Billy—make it to the car and retrieve Amanda's gun. They drive past the store window, as Bud and the rest watch.
Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his house destroyed and his wife dead. Heartbroken and in tears, he drives the group south, seeing destruction and a gigantic multi-legged, tentacled beast. After hours of traveling, they run out of gas. While Billy is sleeping, the four adults hear a monstrous sound and decide that there is no point in going on. With four bullets left in Amanda's gun and five people in the car, David shoots the other four rather than have them suffer from the beasts. Distraught and determined to die, David gets out of the car and calls out for the monsters to come and get him. To his horror and surprise, a U.S. Army self-propelled artillery piece emerges from the mist, followed by a large army unit equipped with NBC suits and flamethrowers. As the mist recedes, burning carcasses of huge spiders are seen, while several truckfuls of both soldiers and survivors also pass David. Among them is the woman who left the store at the storm's outset, along with her two young children, whom she left to save. Realizing that they were only moments from being rescued and had been driving away from help the entire time, David falls to his knees, screaming in anguish, while two 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.
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Dan Miller, a normal civilian who is the first to see the signs of danger from the mist.
- 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 Weeks, the assistant manager of the supermarket.
- William Sadler as Jim Grondin, a weak minded local mechanic.
- 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 audiobook 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 creating designs that 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.
The film has received generally positive reviews from critics. 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, indicating generally favourable reviews. 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."
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.
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.
- "The Most Realistic Grand Moff Tarkin Bust Ever Made". At Tha Movies. 2014-01-27. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- 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.
- Cieply, Michael (November 24, 2013). "The Weinstein Company, Seeking Hits, Shifts to TV". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
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