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, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Laurie Holden, and Melissa McBride.
The 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 neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) has demolished their boat-house and landing pier. David goes to ask the neighbor 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.
David decides to go to the local grocery store to buy supplies, bringing his eight-year-old son Billy (Nathan Gamble) and Norton 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. 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. Shortly after, the mist envelops the store, making it impossible to see outside, and a violent, earthquake-like tremor hits. Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a religious fanatic, believes that this is the beginning of Armageddon. A shaken woman (Melissa McBride), against objections from the others, leaves the store to get home to her children, who she left at home alone. David and others investigate the loading bay generator and find that the exhaust vent is plugged. A bag-boy named Norm (Chris Owen) volunteers to go outside and unplug the vent, but as he steps outside, he is snatched and devoured by an unseen monster, despite the efforts of David and assistant store manager Ollie Weeks (Toby Jones) to save him.
Upon 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. Later, Norton and several others head outside for help, only to be killed by an unseen creature, prompting the rest of the survivors barricade the shop-front windows. At night, enormous flying scorpion-like insects land on the windows and pterodactyl-like animals devour them, eventually causing the glass to break and allowing the insects to enter the store, killing two and badly injuring one. One of the insects lands on Mrs. Carmody, but she is spared when she prays. As a result, she starts preaching and quickly gains followers among the distraught survivors.
The following day, a trip to the neighboring pharmacy to gather medical supplies goes horribly wrong and two people are killed. Following this, Mrs. Carmody gets nearly everyone in the market on her side. That night, two soldiers commit 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 are now invading the town. Mrs. Carmody convinces her followers that it is Jessup's fault and he is repeatedly stabbed until Mrs. Carmody tells them to feed him to the creatures. He is then thrown out of the store, grabbed and devoured by a large praying mantis-like creature.
David and a handful of other 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 his group sacrificed, but Ollie shoots her twice with Amanda Dumfries' (Laurie Holden) gun, killing her and forcing her horrified followers to stand down and allow David's group to leave. As the group runs to David's car, Ollie and two others are killed by the creatures and one runs back to the market in a panic. The remaining members of David's group, consisting of David, Billy, Dan, Amanda, and Irene (Frances Sternhagen), make it to the car and retrieve Amanda's gun.
Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his house destroyed and his wife dead. Heartbroken, he drives the group south, seeing destruction and a gigantic multi-legged, tentacled beast. When they run out of gas hours later, the group decides there is no point in going on. With four bullets left in Amanda's gun and five people in the car, David shoots the others rather than have them suffer from the beasts. Distraught and determined to die, David gets out of the car to sacrifice himself to the monsters. However, the mist recedes, revealing that the U.S. Army has killed the monsters and rescued whatever survivors of the disaster. Among the survivors is the woman who left the store at the phenomenon's onset, accompanied by her two children who 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.
- Samuel Witwer as Private Wayne Jessup, a local soldier trapped in the market.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Critical reception Edit
The film has received positive reviews from critics. On the film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, The Mist received a 73% approval rating, based on 141 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10, 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."
Box office Edit
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.