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|
|Box office||$57.3 million|
The Mist (also known as Stephen King's The Mist) is a 2007 American science-fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella "The Mist" by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont. 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, Nathan Gamble, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Frances Sternhagen, Buck Taylor, William Sadler, Sam Witwer, Alexa Davalos, Chris Owen, Andy Stahl, and future The Walking Dead actors Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Melissa McBride, and Juan Gabriel Pareja.
Filming for The Mist began in Shreveport, Louisiana, in February 2007. The film 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. Darabont has since revealed that he had "always had it in mind to shoot The Mist in black and white", a decision inspired by such iconic films as Night of the Living Dead (1968) and the "pre-color" work of Ray Harryhausen. While the film's cinematic release was in color, the director has described the black-and-white print (released on Blu-ray in 2008) as his "preferred version."
The director revised the ending of the film to be darker than the novella's ending, a change to which King was amenable. Darabont also sought unique creature designs to differentiate them from his creatures in past films.
Although a monster movie, the central theme explores what ordinary people are 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 envelops the town and conceals vicious, Lovecraftian monsters as extreme tensions rise among the survivors.
In Bridgton, Maine, artist David Drayton, his wife Stephanie, and their eight-year-old son Billy take shelter in the basement of their lakeside home during a severe thunderstorm. While surveying the damage the next morning, they notice a thick mist advancing over the lake. David and Billy leave for town with their neighbor Brent Norton to buy supplies. Inside the supermarket, they watch police cars speed down the street, and a terrified civilian, Dan Miller, runs into the store and warns of a danger lurking in the mist. As a siren sounds, store managers Ollie Weeks and Bud Brown close off the supermarket, and the mist envelops the store. Against David's advice, bagger Norm goes outside to fix the store's emergency generator, but he is grabbed by a tentacled creature and dragged into the mist. David and Ollie direct the customers to barricade the storefront windows, but one woman leaves to go home to her children. Mrs. Carmody, a religious fanatic, begins preaching about an impending Armageddon, while a small group of skeptics led by Brent leave the store to seek outside help, which results in their deaths. David forms connections with several people in the store, including Amanda Dunfrey and Irene Reppler, two teachers who came into conflict with Mrs. Carmody over her religious zealotry. Amanda carries a revolver in her purse, and gives it to Ollie, who is a former regional shooting champion.
As night falls, enormous flying insects – attracted to the lights – swarm in front of the store and are preyed on by pterodactyl-like creatures. One of the creatures smashes a window, allowing the insects inside. In the ensuing panic, two people are killed and another is burned to death in an attempt to incinerate the insects. Meanwhile, Mrs. Carmody is miraculously spared from an insect, leading her to proselytize more fervently and gain followers among the survivors. A small group led by David goes to the neighboring pharmacy in search of medical supplies, but is attacked by giant spiders that kill two men, forcing them to retreat. Mrs. Carmody, who had opposed the expedition, uses this failure to increase her influence by offering protection from divine wrath to new converts. The next day, following the suicides of two soldiers from the local military base, a third soldier, Jessup, reveals that a government project to discover other dimensions was underway at the base, and that scientists may have opened a doorway into a dimension containing the creatures invading the town. Mrs. Carmody's followers offer Jessup as a sacrifice and expel him from the supermarket, and he is immediately devoured by a giant praying mantis-like creature.
The next morning, David and his group prepare to leave the store, but are stopped by Mrs. Carmody, who demands that Billy be delivered as the next sacrifice. Ollie, however, guns her down, then threatens her traumatized followers into standing down, thus allowing the group to escape. Outside, he and two others are devoured by the creatures and one runs back to the store, while David, Billy, Dan, Amanda, and Irene reach David's car. Driving through the mist, David finds his home destroyed and Stephanie dead. Devastated, he drives away from town, passing a colossal six-legged beast and eventually running out of gas. With no means of escaping the mist, the resigned group members decide to end their lives. David shoots Billy and the other three survivors with his four remaining bullets before leaving the car to be taken by the creatures. The mist suddenly dissipates, revealing that the United States Army has arrived and is in the process of exterminating the creatures and restoring order. Seeing that they have also rescued survivors, including the woman who left the store to get to her kids, David realizes that he killed his son and friends for nothing and screams in agony.
- Thomas Jane as David Drayton, a painter who ends up trapped in the supermarket with his son Billy
- Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody, a decidedly unorthodox religious fanatic who uses her own facile interpretation to preach that the mist is the wrath of God
- Laurie Holden as Amanda Dunfrey, a new teacher at the local school. She carries a Smith & Wesson Model 60 with her at all times
- Andre Braugher as Brent Norton, a big-city attorney and David's neighbor
- Toby Jones as Ollie Weeks, the supermarket's assistant manager, who is experienced with guns
- William Sadler as Jim Grondin, a belligerent and weak-minded mechanic
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Dan Miller, who takes shelter in the market after witnessing the dangers from the mist
- Frances Sternhagen as Irene Reppler, an elderly teacher and Amanda's co-worker
- Alexa Davalos as Sally, a cashier at the supermarket and Billy's babysitter
- Nathan Gamble as Billy Drayton, David's eight-year-old son
- Chris Owen as Norm, a bag boy
- Sam Witwer as Private Wayne Jessup, a soldier stationed at the nearby Arrowhead military base
- Robert Treveiler as Bud Brown, the supermarket's manager
- David Jensen as Myron LaFleur, a mechanic who works with Jim
- Melissa McBride as an unnamed woman who left her kids alone at home
- Andy Stahl as Mike Hatlen, one of the patrons at the supermarket who side with David's group
- Buck Taylor as Ambrose Cornell, a mustached man who sides with David's group and has a shotgun in his truck
- Juan Gabriel Pareja as Morales, another soldier from Arrowhead base
- Walter Fauntleroy as Donaldson, another soldier from Arrowhead base
- Brandon O'Dell as Bobby Eagleton, Joe's brother and one of the patrons at the supermarket who side with David's group
- Jackson Hurst as Joe Eagleton, Bobby's brother, who tries to build a torch with a mop, but fails
- Susan Watkins as Hattie Turman, a local real estate agent
- Mathew Greer as Silas, one of the patrons at the supermarket who sides with Brent's group
- Kelly Collins Lintz as Stephanie Drayton, David's wife and Billy's mother
- Ron Clinton Smith as Mr. Mackey, the supermarket's 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, 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 in the film is never explained in great detail, 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 film 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 King's Dark Tower series, and was painted by film poster designer Drew Struzan. Darabont also included reproductions 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. Struzan went on to produce a poster for The Mist, but this image was not used in the film's marketing campaign.
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 100 extras from Shreveport, Louisiana, were included in The Mist. Unlike conventional application of extras in the background of a film, 60 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 closely inspected, 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 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."[permanent dead link] 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 Darabont received the Kodak Award for Excellence in Filmmaking for his previous works The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
On Rotten Tomatoes, 72% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 144 reviews, with an average rating of 6.56/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Frank Darabont's impressive camerawork and politically incisive script make The Mist a truly frightening experience." On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 29 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a "C" on scale of A to F.
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." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune praised the film: "Good and creepy, The Mist comes from a Stephen King novella and is more the shape, size and quality of the recent “1408,” likewise taken from a King story, than anything in the persistently fashionable charnel house inhabited by the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises. Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote "There's a grim modern parable to be read into the dangerous effects of the gospel-preaching local crazy lady Mrs. Carmody (brilliantly played by a hellfire Marcia Gay Harden) on a congregation of the fearful." Tom Ambrose of Empire said the film was "criminally overlooked" and "one of the best horror movies of the last few years."
Roger Ebert wrote a mixed review, giving it 2 stars out of 4: "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." Justin Chang of Variety gave a mixed review, and wrote: "Much nastier and less genteel than his best-known Stephen King adaptations (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), Frank Darabont's screw-loose doomsday thriller works better as a gross-out B-movie than as a psychological portrait of mankind under siege, marred by one-note characterizations and a tone that veers wildly between snarky and hysterical."
Bloody Disgusting ranked the film number four 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 G. W. Bush-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 the 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").
In November 2013, Bob Weinstein revealed that Darabont and he were developing a 10-part television series based on the film. In February 2016, Spike picked up the pilot. In April 2016, Spike ordered the series. Emmy-winning director Adam Bernstein directed the pilot. It premiered on June 22, 2017.
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