The Mist (film)
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, Samuel Witwer, Toby Jones, and future The Walking Dead actors Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Melissa McBride, and Juan Gabriel Pareja.
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|
|Distributed by||MGM Distribution Co.|
|Box office||$57.3 million|
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 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 envelops the town and conceals vicious, Lovecraftian monsters as extreme tensions rise among the survivors.
After a thunderstorm damages their home, David Drayton leaves his wife Stephanie to buy supplies with his eight-year-old son Billy and their neighbor, Brent. They notice a mist rolling down the mountain toward their house, and unusual police and military activity at the supermarket.
Three soldiers enter the store, soon followed by an MP who informs them leave has been cancelled. As the town's civil defense siren sounds, an injured man, Dan, runs into the store screaming about "something in the mist!" A thick mist envelops the store, accompanied by earthquake-like tremors.
The deeply pious Mrs. Carmody believes they are experiencing Armageddon. Against others’ objections, a women leaves the store to go home to her children. David discovers the store's emergency generator is venting exhaust into the loading bay and bagger Norm goes outside to fix the clogged vent, but is attacked by an unseen monster and dragged into the mist. Initially skeptical, store manager Bud and a local biker are convinced by a severed tentacle left behind, and everyone barricades the storefront windows.
Refusing to listen to David, Brent goes outside with a small group to seek help, followed by the biker with rope tied around his waist. Brent’s group are attacked and presumably killed by an unseen creature, and the survivors pull back the biker’s severed lower half. As night falls, enormous flying insects with venomous stingers land on the windows, and are preyed on by Pterodactyl-like creatures, eventually breaking inside the store and killing two people, while another man is severely burned while incinerating the creatures and later dies. One of the insects lands on Mrs. Carmody but does not sting her when she keeps still during her prayer, leading her to proselytize more fervently and gain followers among the survivors.
In search of medical supplies and more survivors, David leads Dan, Private Wayne Jessup, patrons Mike, Bobby, Irene, Jim, and assistant manager Ollie to the neighboring pharmacy, which has been massacred by spider-like creatures that shoot corrosive webbing. Among the bodies is the MP, whom they cut from his cocoon but he dies, with spiders bursting from his corpse. Mike and Bobby are killed by the spiders, forcing the group to retreat. Mrs. Carmody recruits most everyone in the store to her side, and soldiers Donaldson and Morales commit suicide. Jessup reveals rumors from the local military base about the Arrowhead Project, a government attempt to research other dimensions, and that scientists may have opened a doorway into a dimension containing the creatures now invading the town. An angry mob, led by Mrs. Carmody, turn on Jessup, who is beaten, stabbed, and ejected from the store as a human sacrifice, falling prey to a large praying mantis-like creature.
In the morning, Ollie secretly gathers supplies for David’s group and they prepare to leave, but are stopped by Mrs. Carmody, who has confiscated the cache and turned the mob against them. She demands that Billy and schoolteacher Amanda be sacrificed next, but Ollie kills Mrs. Carmody with Amanda's gun. Returning to their senses, Carmody's horrified followers allow David's group to escape. In the parking lot, Ollie is torn in half by the praying mantis-like creature, Myron and Ambrose are killed by spiders, and Bud runs back inside the store. Only David, Billy, Dan, Amanda, and Irene make it to the car, and the remaining survivors watch them drive off.
Driving through the mist, David finds his home destroyed and Stephanie dead. Devastated, he drives south, passing destroyed vehicles and a gigantic six-legged, tentacled beast. Running out of gas hours later, the group – except for Billy, who is too young to understand – consent to be euthanized by David rather than endure horrifying deaths from the creatures. David kills them with the four remaining bullets, and leaves the car to be killed himself. The mist suddenly recedes, revealing the vanguard of a U.S. Army armored column exterminating the creatures. David sees they have rescued survivors, including the woman who first left the store, unscathed and with her two children. Realizing that his group was only moments away from rescue, David drops to his knees, screaming.
- 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 religious fanatic who interprets the mist as the wrath of God.
- Laurie Holden as Amanda Dumfries, 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. He is experienced with guns.
- William Sadler as Jim Grondin, a belligerent and weak-minded mechanic.
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Dan Miller, a man who takes shelter in the market after witnessing the dangers from the mist.
- Frances Sternhagen as Irene Reppler, an elderly teacher.
- 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.
- 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 ( possible a Winchester) in his truck.
- Brian Libby as the biker who tries to reach Ambrose's shotgun.
- Melissa McBride as an unnamed woman who left her kids alone at home.
- Brandon O'Dell as Bobby Eagleton, Joe's brother, 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, the lady who watches Billy at the supermarket and a local teacher.
- Mathew Greer as Silas, one of the patrons at the supermarket who side with Brent's group.
- Juan Gabriel Pareja as Morales, another soldier from Arrowhead base.
- Walter Fauntleroy as Donaldson, another soldier from Arrowhead base.
- Amin Joseph as the Military Police officer.
- Kelly Collins Lintz as Steff Drayton, David's wife.
- 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 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 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 Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and was painted by film poster designer Drew Struzan. Darabont also included 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. Struzan would go 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 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."[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 director Frank 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 142 reviews, with an average rating of 6.58/10. 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: "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 #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 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 he and Darabont 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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