Sunday, October 19, 2008

Night 18: The Mist

There's no escaping the fact that "Based on the Book (or Story) by Stephen King" has heralded far more stinkbombs than blockbusters on the big screen. If you exclude non-horror fare like The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, and The Green Mile, you can literally count on one hand the number of quality films his work has inspired. And no, I don't consider Children of the Corn or Creepshow a quality film. Who to blame for this is a curious question. Without a doubt, the vast majority of his adapters have been hacks at best, content to whore his name and criminally heedless of whether they defile it in the process. In a court of artistic integrity, the makers of Lawnmower Man, Graveyeard Shift, and The Mangler would all be hanged for treason. But the brutal truth is that King himself is responsible for many of the his biggest embarrassments, from the horrifically stupid Maximum Overdrive (his one and only directorial contribution) to the bug-eyed insanity of remaking The Shining for television.

All of this has led King fans--me included--to develop pathetically low expectations. Keep this in mind if you ever find yourself in an argument over whether The Stand or IT made for good miniseries, or whether Dreamcatcher is worth renting (it's not).

Fortunately, every now and again, somebody gets it just right. Not only that, they sometimes manage to add a little touch of their own that makes an already good story even better. Such is the case with The Mist, Frank Darabont's third successful King adaptation in a row (following the aforementioned Shawshank and The Green Mile). Sure, the CGI effects are a bit cheesy, the characters are a little cliched, and the scare quotient is low enough to watch with your grandmother, but all of that makes perfect sense in this atomic-era throwback, where Big Science is to blame for what goes bump in the night and small towns still serve as microcosms of the world at large. It's all in good fun, but be careful though. A genuine shock of Darabont's own creation lies waiting to ambush you at the end of this movie and you might be surprised to find yourself a little more disturbed than you bargained for.

Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
Scare Factor:

My psychological status:

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