What would you do if other-worldly creatures invaded Earth under a veil of mist? Damn, did I just give the plot away? Like you didn’t know. Besides, the surprises in The Mist aren’t what drives the story. Thank God. There’s finally a thriller that doesn’t rely on plot twists to make a movie.

The Mist starts quickly, eliminating the build up time before things start to go awry. David Drayton (Thomas Jane), his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) and their son Billy (Nathan Gamble) hide from a violent storm outside that leaves their house in shambles. David and Billy, along with their condescending neighbor Brent (Andre Braugher), drive into town to get supplies and material to fix the house. They notice a thick mist descending from the nearby mountains but shrug it off as two weather fronts colliding. Things start to go badly as a man comes running into the small town’s grocery store, screaming about creatures in the mist. Locked inside the market, several locals fight to keep the creatures from breaking in, as well as fighting to keep other “creatures” from turning the survivors into monsters themselves.

Frank Darabont – who has penned and directed several Stephen King adaptations – does a fairly good job of showing the chaotic nature of humans when placed in a dire situation. In these scenes he brilliantly explores how fragile the human psyche is and how people will search anywhere for answers when they are terrified for their lives.

On other levels, however, Darabont fails to achieve what he’s going for. Aside from some well-executed action sequences (think spiders on crack), most of the action seems bland and slow. It lacks the edge that gives you a chill and makes you bite your nails. But, in the context of the story and how it should be told, it’s ok that these scenes provide lackluster results.

Jane provides a much better performance than he gave in the atrocious Punisher, showing some real range and depth with David Drayton. If he could cry without making a somewhat hilarious howl (I had to fight from laughing, I’m an *sshole sometimes), this would have been a flawless performance. Concurrently, each actor puts forth a strong performance to drive the movie forward.

There’s not really that much to say about special effects because you never really see the creatures in full view, although the ones you do see look very accomplished. The most amazing special effect in the movie is the thick, rolling mist itself. The mist sets the mood for the story and really creates a suffocating feeling for the audience, leading to the assertion that there is no way out.

The only complaint I had is that Darabont, an outspoken atheist, feels the need to overwhelm the audience with anti-Christian sentiment in the form of an antagonist bible-thumper. Though it’s important to the story that this character tries to usurp power from the protagonist, Darabont goes out of his way to make his point about religion being as evil as otherworldly monsters. In the end, it hurts the movie and also makes the premise even more unbelievable. I say this because, would three quarters of the 25+ people in the store really be as desperate for religious saving after only 3 days? A little too heavy-handed to be accurate if you think about it.

All in all, the movie was an entertaining ride with a not-too-shocking ending. The producers advertised the most shocking ending ever, but failed to deliver the goods. This film should have ended 3 minutes earlier to be really shocking, but at least it wasn’t a happy ending when it shouldn’t have been. But I’ll let you decide that part for yourself. It was good enough for me.

**1/2 Jessicas out of four. This movie was entertaining. A little bland in some places and preachy in others, but still very well executed and interesting to watch.

AK

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