The Mist ★★★½

From the director of The Shawshank Redemption & The Green Mile comes another adaptation of a Stephen King novel, this time exploring the horrors that people are capable of inflicting on others when their primal instincts are driven by the fear of the unknown. Engulfed in a thick layer of mist, what we have here is a monster flick that's thrilling, suspenseful & looming with paranoia but it also works as an apt examination of the human condition.

The Mist concerns a small town community that gathers at the local supermarket to pick supplies, following a night of violent thunderstorm, but when their entire town is enveloped by an unnatural mist that's apparently hiding otherworldly creatures, they find themselves stuck at the store for an indefinite period and attempt to survive the apocalyptic disaster together. But tension soon arises within the horrified & distraught members of the community.

Written & directed by Frank Darabont, The Mist doesn't take long to move on with its main plot as within minutes into the story, we find the entire town being enveloped in a thick mist which brings an aura of mystery along with the monsters and instantly establishes a suspenseful atmosphere as well. However, Darabont's real strength lies in exploring our basic instincts and he demonstrates exactly that with alarming trueness while handling the genre conventions side by side.

The film packs an adequate amount of monster action but it is at its most effective when dealing with the distinct personalities that inhabit this feature. A chilling sense of dread permeates each n every frame, and it remains a tense affair till the very end, where it culminates on a far darker note than anticipated. Sure, it doesn't shy away from revelling in little bloodshed & gore every now n then but its main emphasis is on keeping its foreboding ambience alive, at which it brilliantly triumphs.

The majority of its plot unfolds in a single location, bringing the claustrophobic element into play, while creatures of all shapes & sizes keep surfacing at regular intervals to remind us of the peril that's waiting outside. Also contributing to the overall experience is its steady camerawork, firm editing & its nearly absent soundtrack that makes its presence felt only during the final moments, thus enhancing the jolt of its climax by a further few notches. But there are also a few misses.

The visual effects is terrible when it comes to monsters' designs & appearance. It looks a tad too cartoonish to be taken seriously, and never seamlessly blends with the imagery. However, it does work when all we could see is their silhouettes. Performances aren't that compelling either as the cast fails to capitalise on the terrific work Darabont has done with the scripted characters. Their input isn't disappointing nor does it take away anything from the picture but it could've been so much more.

On an overall scale, The Mist is another expertly crafted, smartly narrated & thoroughly engrossing cinema from Frank Darabont that may not touch the heights of his finest efforts but it still works as an interesting meditation on human nature. Beautifully illustrating just how quickly rational thinking goes out the window when people are placed in overwhelming situations, and how easily fear & panic can turn even the most civilised society into a mindless mob, The Mist is dense with themes, focuses more on the evil that resides within us, and cuts deeper than your average monster flick. Worth a shot.

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