By Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 14, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Ralph Nelson
  • Movie

The setting is a pretty Maine village — a clue bright as a lighthouse beacon that Stephen King has something to do with the horror that follows in The Mist. Upstanding residents go about their business, which includes shopping for groceries after a storm. Then a thick, mean, white, wet fog rolls in, and with it come giant, hideous creatures from a hellish other dimension (some buglike and winged, others tentacled and slimy), hungry for anyone caught outside. So those in the supermarket barricade themselves inside. And then the real human-on-human evil begins.

The bugs and such are gross enough — and yet so very handsome — in Frank Darabont’s nifty, unusually spry, and almost shockingly pessimistic low-budget adaptation of King’s 1980 extended short story. (Abandon all hope, ye who remember the original, unresolved ending.) But it’s the good people of classic Kingville, brought to life by an energized cast including Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, and Laurie Holden, who ought to scare the bejesus out of audiences. There’s a grim modern parable to be read into the dangerous effects of the gospel-preaching local crazy lady Mrs. Carmody (brilliantly played by a hellfire Marcia Gay Harden) on a congregation of the fearful. Under the circumstances, when a feisty neighbor (Frances Sternhagen) bonks Mrs. C on the head with a can of peas, the gesture counts as a declaration of independence. B+

  • Movie
  • R
  • 127 minutes
  • Dimension Films
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