I sure do love films like this. I love watching films where there’s this unexplainable phenomenon happening and we are taken on a thrill ride to figure it out. The Mist is for sure a film where that happens… but even better… we actually get good characters, great actors, and a script with a whole lot of depth. The horror that takes place here is twofold: one is the obvious supernatural horror and the other is of a psychological nature. Because of both of these themes working together, we get a rich film with many interesting ideas. All things considered, this is a great film, with really only one thing I took issue with.
Everyone does a great job here but there are three real standouts and they are: Marcia Gay Harden, Thomas Jane, and Laurie Holden. Marcia Gay Harden, who I already knew was great from seeing her in Mystic River, plays the hell out of her crazy role. She plays a religious zealot who ends up causing a lot of trouble as the film progresses and things go from bad to worse. Harden plays the role so convincingly, I was actually terrified by her and by what she ends up doing and that’s a testament to her acting ability and the script.
Thomas Jane plays the lead protagonist with a great sense of morality and lovability. You really can’t help but love him and root for him the whole way through. Jane ends up having to do some very rough scenes and he handles them all with such skill… really great lead performance. Laurie Holden plays her role with a lovability similar to Jane and is another character we stick right with and pull hard for. You must have those type of characters in films like this: people to pull hard for. I also have to give a shout out to Frances Sternhagen because she makes for a wonderful supporting character who provides a sense of wisdom and clarity.
The script is also pretty great, offering up creative supernatural content while also presenting horrifying psychological horror as well. The supernatural material is rich in detail and has multiple layers to it. It’s not quite as simple as, “hey, there are some monsters in the mist”. There are many different horrors in the mist and some are visually incredible.
While on the topic of visuals, the effects here are pretty impressive, especially towards the end as more of what the mist holds is revealed. There is one moment in particular at the end where I was mesmerized by what I saw revealed: so creative and unique! What is also equally creative and interesting is the explanation we get for the mist and why it is here. We learn the secret at the end and I found it to be really intriguing!
Intriguing is a good word to also describe the psychological horror that we see unfold. I’m not sure if the most horrific things seen in this film come from the mist or from certain people. There is genuinely terrifying evil that comes from human beings towards the end and I think it was really smart of the writers to include this because it makes for a story that has layers and commentary. Fear is the theme throughout this film… fear and desperation cause a lot of things to occur here that didn’t have to.
The most disturbing scene in the film isn’t actually supernatural at all. This scene is 100% human and it shows what the history of mankind has showed us… when people get scared and desperate enough… they can do unimaginable things. It also shows us the horror behind fanatical religion and brainwashing cults. The forming of this part of the film is done in a very smart way and I’m glad they had it because it made the film more than just a monster movie. The idea that our fellow man could be the bigger monster than actual monsters is terrifying. The sheer creativity and uniqueness of the supernatural content and the disturbing psychological content make this film kind of like an onion… so many layers to peel back.
The final scene in this film is shockingly bleak. I was legitimately stunned by what I saw happen in the last moment and I don’t think it was a good choice. The Mist takes the audience through a lot of brutality and death and I don’t take issue with that. It is a horror film after all. But I feel like how they chose to end things was just unnecessarily cruel, especially after all the other awful ordeals. BUT the film was so great all the way up until that final scene that I MUST give it a resounding recommendation!
The Mist proves to be one of the best horror films ever made due to its unique/smart script, brilliant performances and it’s creative visuals. I do take issue with what I see as an unnecessarily cruel ending, but that is my only critique.