This has to be one of my all-time favorite films and definitely one of the better Stephen King film adaptions, unlike IT or The Stand – both of which I have tried to watch and both of which are extremely dull and over-rated (although much has to be said for the clown in IT)
The plot follows David Drayton, a youngish father and artist whose house has just been hit by a large storm – causing a neighbor’s tree to fall into it. David and his son Billy, along with their dickish neighbor Brent – who has previously filed lawsuits against the family – head into town to the local convenience store to grab groceries and repair materials, leaving David’s wife to keep an eye on the house. As they are leaving they notice a thick fog coming down from the hills and accredit it to the storm that has just passed.
While in the convenience store (the primary location of our film) the fog descends on the town. Little is made of it until the town’s tornado siren goes off and a heavily bleeding man rushes into the store and shouts that there are monsters in the mist and something attacked him. The people in the store take little heed of this claim, although they do take heed of the earthquake which then violently shakes the store. At this point the shoppers come to the conclusion SOMETHING is going on, although they believe it more likely a toxic spill or natural disaster rather than the ‘monsters’ that the injured man claims are out there. The townspeople are uncomfortable with the idea of going out into the mist in case it turns out to be toxic, but other than that they are not fearful – except for one woman who has left her children alone (Carol from The Walking Dead) who, after no one offers to accompany her, leaves the store to retrieve her children.
Other people trapped in the store include Mrs Carmody – a religious zealot who believes that the mist is a sign from God who is punishing mankind for its sinfulness, Amanda – a young blonde teacher (Andrea from The Walking Dead), Irene – a tough, elderly primary school teacher, Ollie who is one of the store assistants and several local soldiers whose MP is next door in the pharmacy.
After the residents have settled down into the store David goes exploring and while in the back hears something banging at the large delivery doors. He runs back out front to inform everyone of this, but he is met with scepticism and ignored. Eventually the generator stops and when investigated it turns out something is blocking its exhaust pipe outside. Norm the bag boy, despite David’s warnings, volunteers to go unclog the pipe but as the doors are opened a very large set of tentacles emerge out of the mist and descend on Norm, dragging him into the mist and wreaking havoc. David manages to re-close the doors and chop off the end of one of the tentacles – which disintegrates when further touched – and the store finally begin to believe that there are ‘things’ in the mist.
The film continues with various attacks from the critters as well as the added threat of Mrs Carmody – who begins to preach doomsday and human sacrifice to appease God. Slowly the people in the store turn towards her and her fanaticism – causing much chaos. I will not ruin the plot further, but it is exceptionally well developed and written and contains one of the highlights of the entire film – Irene hitting Mrs Carmody with a can of peas. Also the ending is excellent!
I must now backtrack to the tentacled creature. THIS IS THE BEST TENTACLED CRITTER I HAVE EVER SEEN IN A FILM and believe me I have seen a fair few. In my opinion it trumps the watcher in the water, the kraken, that weird chick out of Men in Black 2, Giant Octopus in Megashark vs Giant Octopus – not hard to top I know – and any other beast I have seen. The tentacles are epic, they unfold to reveal sharp pointed teeth – where an octopus would have its suction pads – which rip off bits of skin even if the tentacle itself doesn’t get a wrap around you. Added to the epicness is the fact that they emerge out of the mist – so you never get to see what they are attached to.
The other creatures are also exceptional. Whoever designed the monsters for this film should get an award, they are creepy and otherworldly and fairly terrifying – anyone with spider phobias probably shouldn’t watch this film! Having read quite a bit of H. P. Lovecraft it is very obvious that a lot of inspiration was taken from his Cthulu mythos, with some of the creatures being nearly identical to ones described in his short stories – especially The Dunwich Horror. The amount of tentacles present in the film as a whole also suggests a direct inspiration from Cthulu, which gains the film points in my opinion. The idea of hidden knowledge, other dimensions being ripped into and the unseen being scarier than the seen is also very Lovecraftian.
The plot is traditional King, with Mrs Carmody being a typical King character as well as the usual small-town mentalities and setting. The entire premise for the film is excellent and appeals somewhat to my siege mentality and fortification and survival instincts. King and the directors have created excellent characters that you love to hate and some of the dialogue is truly brilliant. The CGI for the time is good and still holds its own and the plot and scariness are timeless. You will never be comfortable walking through thick fog again!
I must have watched this film well over 20 times, and I recommend you give it a watch yourself!
By Liz 🙂
Second opinion: Paul
I was going to review this one as well so I might as well add my thoughts here. First thing to say is that in my opinion “best tentacled creature” is hands down the Forest Elemental from Hellboy 2. Other than that, I pretty much agree with Liz. The whole idea of the metaphorical monsters within being worse than the actual monsters without has been done plenty of times but it’d done here as well as anywhere. Though at times I remember being a little bored,and I didn’t enjoy the character stuff as much as Liz did, The Mist is a mostly tense, claustrophobic film with great creature design and a mind-blowingly good ending. By good, I of course mean absolutely horrible and one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. But that’s the point of films like this, right?
Oh yeah, this film doesn’t have a happy ending. Spoiler alert.