Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Mist approaches...

THE MIST... I saw the horror/sci-fi flick this weekend, and needless to say, I don’t think I’ve EVER felt so much anger or clapped this much for characters in a movie before. In fact, in the case of this film, I could type down two lists in this journal entry... The first one being for CHARACTERS WHO DESERVED TO SURVIVE (but didn’t) and the other for CHARACTERS WHO DESERVED TO DIE (and did). But first, let me point out the fact that the audience (at least the one I saw the movie with) reacted so strongly to the folks on-screen is a testimony to how well the actors and actresses portrayed them (and the script might have something to do with it too, haha). Well done. The characters you were suppose to like you did like, and the characters you were suppose to hate you REALLY hated. Now...onto the lists:

(BELOW: SPOILERS BEWARE!! Don't continue reading if you haven't seen the movie yet. And are planning to.)

Laurie Holden, Thomas Jane, Nathan Gamble, Jeffrey DeMunn and Frances Sternhagen in THE MIST.

AMANDA DUMBFRIES (played by Laurie Holden)... Amanda had such a sweet personality that you wished she’d REALLY open a can of whup-ass on Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) for treating her like crap—and literally calling Amanda ‘crap’—throughout most of the film. She had to meet her fate with a bullet (won’t tell you by which character...yet).
OLLIE (played by Toby Jones)... The audience I watched the film with cheered whenever he killed a mist creature, and Mrs. Carmody (more on this one later) with his revolver. He met his fate by one of those creatures.
DAN MILLER (played by Jeffrey DeMunn)... He didn’t do anything special, but it sucks that he ate the bullet (by the same character who capped Amanda) as well.


IRENE (played by Frances Sternhagen)... Irene instantly won the audience over after throwing a can of soup at Mrs. Carmody’s head to shut her up, and then using a barbecue lighter and what looked like a can of Raid as a blowtorch to incinerate a giant alien spider that was about to attack her in a drug store. Too bad her fate was the same as Amanda and Dan Miller.

Now, let’s get to the other list...

Norm (Chris Owen) is dragged out into The Mist by an unseen tentacled creature.

NORM (Chris Owen)... The bagboy was such a douchebag that you were glad those giant tentacles that made their way into that loading dock first mauled Norm before taking him out into the mist and chewed him up. Looks like Norm should’ve stuck with being the "Shermanator". Watch the American Pie films if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
BRENT NORTON (Andre Braugher)... It’s actually ambiguous as to what happened to Norton the minute he stubbornly exited the market door...but you wished something bad happened to him after mocking David Drayton (the main character played by The Punisher’s Thomas Jane) after Drayton tried to warn the judge about the dangers that lied out in the mist. That, and failing to cut down the tree that destroyed Drayton’s boathouse during a storm at the beginning of the film. Interestingly, how funny that it was mostly the other African-American customers who followed Norton out of the market...and apparently met their fate at the hands of the alien creatures as well. The token black folks always get killed off in Hollywood movies...


Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden).  The TRUE danger in the film...

MRS. CARMODY (Marcia Gay Harden)... If ever you were looking for a movie that taught you about the dangers of cults, or how extreme religious fanaticism can get, THIS is the movie. Marcia Harden did a bang-up job playing this crazy character, and you end up hating Mrs. Carmody more and more each time you saw her on screen. In fact, I would have to go out on a limb and say that Mrs. Carmody posed a much greater threat to the other customers than the creatures did out in the mist. In fact, she did. You hate Carmody for getting that one Army soldier (Wayne Jessup, played by Sam Witwer) killed by the mob that you want HER to meet The Maker as quickly as possible. And she SPECTACULAR fashion. Almost everyone in the audience (including I) clapped at the moment Carmody eats not one but two bullets by in the stomach and the other right in her forehead. Sorry for sounding so sadistic, but trust me... If you watch this film, you’ll be so fired up over how psychotic Carmody is that you want her to meet her fate as violently as possible. I don’t need to tell you that there are religious fanatics out there in real life who ARE as extreme as this character. 9/11 is a good reminder of that.

I deliberately waited till the end of this Blog to write about Thomas Jane’s character. David Drayton is an artist who does movie posters for Hollywood studios, and throughout much of the movie, you find it ironic that it is the showbiz guy who’s the most level-headed and noblest one among everybody in the market. However, this noble dude ends up doing something crazy at the end of the film that not even Mrs. Carmody would think of (unless she had Kool-Aid in hand). Wanna know how Amanda, Dan and Irene eat the bullet? Let’s just say... Drayton, in possession of the revolver after Ollie bites the dust, was determined NOT to let any of the people he cared about meet their fate at the hands of the mist creatures. KA-BLAM!!

For a mere horror film, The Mist sure does carry a lot of messages. The first one being about the dangers of religious fanaticism. The second one about how people become less civilized the minute "machines stop working and people are left out in the dark". The third one about the U.S. military engaging in secret projects at the expense of the general populace, and the last one being about how you act the minute you're faced with your mortality. Do you sacrifice your own life so you won’t face a painful death? Or do you let things play out as fate intended and wait till the end comes naturally? This last one is what makes the ending to The Mist a surprising one. I won’t necessarily say it’s a good ending, but it IS a lot lot more interesting than the finales you usually see in horror films (and people in this film do stupid things for valid reasons). Frank Darabont and Stephen King... You guys are craaazay.

Artwork depicting Amanda Dumbfries (Laurie Holden) and David Drayton (Thomas Jane) staring out at the U.S. military...who has something to do with The Mist...
All images courtesy of Dimension Films / MGM

UPDATE (ANOTHER SPOILER): The reason why this film is science fiction is because the mist has something to do with the U.S. military opening a gateway to another world...causing those alien creatures to get through and wreak havoc on the town (set in Maine but actually filmed in Louisiana) where the movie takes place. Hence that major electrical storm at the beginning of the movie.

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