5. The Mist (2007) [Rated R for violence, terror and gore, and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A freak storm unleashes a species of blood-thirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole-up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.
directed by: Frank Darabont
starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Chris Owen, Alexa Davalos, Nathan Gamble
Marcia Gay Harden: we are being punished… for what? for going against the will of God! for going against His forbidden rules of old! walking on the moon! or, or splitting His atoms! or, or, or stem cells and abortions… and destroying the secrets of life that only God above has any right to!
King’s well-established loathing for Christian evangelists (if you ever have cause to suspect you’re in a Stephen King story and you’re locked in a room with a Bible-loving biddy and, say, a zombie hellhound, it’s the former you should fear) is dully personified by Marcia Gay Harden. As the monsters begin to reach into the store like it’s a bowl of Doritos and commence snacktime with her fellow villagers, she starts babbling about God’s vengeance, abortion, stem-cell research and even human sacrifice. This is the sixth time I’ve endured Harden in the past year–who says I’ve got the best job in the world?–so I think I speak with authority when I say her charisma make Dennis Kucinich look like John F. Kennedy. Yet, with cheery remarks like “Don’t go out there. It’s death out there. It’s the end of days!” she inspires a pro-monster cult to rise around her. A civil war threatens to break out somewhere between the charcoal briquettes and the Ovaltine.
The Frank Darabont who sticks in our mind is the one who turned a slightly above-average short story by Stephen King into the majestic Shawshank Redemption. The Darabont on display in The Mist (an adaptation of another King short story) is the one who made The Majestic into a cloying, left-wing polemic to prove my theory correct about an unwritten law in Hollywood which under penalty of not-being-taken-seriously requires every emerging director add to the already-bloated library of bad anti-McCarthyism films.
The Mist is a film where 11-minutes in a sweet old lady makes a speech scolding America for spending money on corporate handouts and bombs instead of education; a film where 15-minutes in the first reaction a Christian woman has at the sight of fog is to proclaim, “It’s the end of days!” as opposed to, “Could be a cold front;” a film where three uniformed Army troopers are locked in a grocery store under attack but leave it to the pudgy, nebbish bag boy to be the hero; a film that wants to be about man’s inhumanity to man but which results in yet another example of Hollywood’s contempt for its audience. […]
This leaves the slightly less-stupid to take another set of sides. This time it’s between those who believe in Hollywood’s version of a Christian and those who can’t figure out that it might be the lights attracting all those giant bugs slamming up against the store windows.
The Christian woman is Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), portrayed by Stephen King and subsequently Darabont not unlike terrorists often portray Jews in the Middle East: as dangerous, less than human hypocrites. It’s not enough Carmody is preachy and judgemental, or that she blames the end-times on abortion and stem-cell research. No, she calls for the blood sacrifice of Drayton’s child because this is a film cynically designed to appeal directly to religious bigots — which may explain why such a snoozer has a 66% fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes…
After a storm, the residents of a small town in Maine are stocking up at the supermarket when a suspicious mist rolls in. “There’s something in the mist!” cries one of the townsfolk. “It took John Lee!” And sure enough, the mist harbors giant locusts and tentacled monsters from outer space. Their chief weapon: silly string. Local movie poster artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane), shopping with his son (Nathan Gamble) is thrust into the battle for survival, while the local religious crackpot (Marcia Gay Harden) starts preaching the end of days. People choose sides.
Trapped in the supermarket, we are in what feels like a Twilight Zone episode. And like Rod Serling’s work at its most earnest, The Mist is packed with enough political grist (stem cells! abortions!) for a very busy mill. Writer-director Frank Darabont, once one of Stephen King’s most successful adaptors (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), is very, very angry. He is mad at the religious right and mad at the military and most of all, mad at the War on Terror. “If you scare people enough, they’ll do anything,” says Darabont regular Jeffrey DeMunn. Particularly when they’re being attacked by CGI pterodactyls that would embarrass Ray Harryhausen.