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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » March 12, 2008
Film review
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The Mist
March 12, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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Director Frank Darabont and writer Stephen King made movie history in the 1990s with two prison dramas. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) garnered seven Academy Award nominations and is rated by critics and viewers alike as one of the greatest movies ever made. Even the weaker spin-off The Green Mile (1999) managed four Oscar nominations. Now, Darabont has ventured into horror. He has said during recent interviews that this is a dream he has cherished since reading King's short story The Mist almost 30 years ago. This demonstrates that dreams are sometimes better left as dreams.

The problem with horror flicks does not lie in their stupidity. Viewers expect to be scared and seldom demand even a modicum of logical behavior from the characters. And nobody expects any consistency in the modus operandi of the forces of evil, whatever these may be.

The real problems begin once a horror film pretends that there is actually some psychological or metaphysical point to the mindless fracas being played out on screen. The Mist, unfortunately, is just such a film. It is also a carbon copy of such classics of the genre as the Alien series, John Carpenter's The Thing and Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

When King wrote The Mist at the end of the 1970s, the idea was probably fresh. But the "Small American town under attack from mysterious and menacing force, townsfolk resist, uncover conflicts in community" formula has been done to death since then. In The Mist, a handful of people from a small town in Maine get holed up in a local supermarket where they have to save themselves from monsters arriving in a mysterious haze. No prizes for guessing that these creatures were brought there courtesy of the secret machinations of U.S. military scientists. Their search for the ultimate weapon has "opened the portal to another world." These monsters, which look like huge, carnivorous insects, besiege the supermarket for a few days, devouring the occasional victim, and then vanish for a while before reappearing. These reprieves give the locals time to kill each other as they debate religious differences.

The cast act as you would expect in this genre of film. They eschew whatever possibilities come their way to escape but enthusiastically embrace any foolhardy plan doomed to failure. When the only seemingly rational person in the group decides to make off by car, the simple expedient of tanking up first doesn't occur to anyone. This erratic behavior has some suitably absurd dialog to go with it. "It appears we may have a problem of some magnitude," opines the supermarket manager while looking at a wriggling tentacle cut off from one of the monsters.

But these flaws pale in comparison with the ending. Those who endure the entire 110 minutes will curse their patience long after leaving the theater.
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