Stephen King’s – The Mist

The Mist

While trawling the news groups I noticed this adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist was available for download. I haven’t read the story but from past adaptations of King’s work I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it might be decent enough to pass a few hours.

However I was pleasantly surprised and shocked by this film. The story is fairly simple, a small town in Maine (like most of King’s work) is hit one night by a violent electrical storm, the following day the townsfolk are all shopping for supplies in the local store when suddenly emergency sirens start going off and a fast moving military convey race through the town. Suddenly a man with a blooded face runs down the street shouting warnings “There’s something in the mist! It took John Lee!” quickly followed by an otherworldly mist which comes rolling in and surrounds the building which is then shaken by an earthquake.

There are indeed hellish monsters hiding in the mist, a giant octopus-like tentacle attacks a grocery clerk, a flock of prehistoric-looking insects invade the store and spidery creatures menace a group as they venture out to get medicine for an ailing man.

What follows is a Lord of the Flies type story as the besieged townsfolk hole up in the store. Fear start to drive some of them half-mad. It doesn’t take long for most of the shoppers, egged on by the eccentric and spiritually messed-up Mrs. Carmody, to begin eyeing their fellow survivors as possible human sacrifices believing that the monsters have they come to exact God’s bloodthirsty revenge as a sign of the End of Days.

However following the revelations of some trapped servicemen it is soon apparent that the cause is likely to be the local military base which may have been conducting experiments which could have opened a doorway to another dimension.

Like the great disaster films of the 1970s The Mist’s narrative tension (and horror) comes as much from the characters’ interactions as from the monsters the mist occasionally spits out. It has a terrific cast and decent enough special effects that do not upstage the human characters.

The Mist mixes the imaginary fears of the HP Lovecraft inspired monsters and supernatural hints with our real fears: unchecked military or scientific activity, the breakdown of society, the end of the world.

Spiral

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The second film review in as many days!

I awoke really early this morning, 3:30am to be precise, a combination of an early night a glass or two of Caol Ila and a troubled mind considering the events of yesterday.

So I went down stairs put the kettle on for a nice cup of Yorkshire tea, and fired up xbmc on my xbos to watch one of my recent downloads. I had spotted Spiral in the newsgroups the other day and after checking the imdb entry decide it sound interesting enough, especially as some one had commented “Office Space meets Hitchcock” However after viewing the only similarity to Office Space is the main character works in a office in a cubicle.

Spiral is in fact a well-acted, intense thriller about a lonely, troubled and delusional young man who is haunted by powerful inner demons. The main character of Mason, played by Joel Moore is a telephone salesperson working for a large insurance company. Mason is detached from the rest of society, he speaks to no one other than his customers and is plagued by debilitating episodes of anxiety, panic and confusion with disturbing flashbacks of a former girlfriend.

His boss (Zachary Levi), and his only friend, is a confident, arrogant womaniser who knows the circumstances of Mason’s tragic past. Mason meets a young female co-worker Amber (played by the beautiful Amber Tamblyn) They meet on a bench outside the office one lunchtime because neither of them want to be in the canteen, Mason is uncomfortable around people and Amber because she doesn’t like the furniture.

Amber notices Mason’s sketch book and learns that he is a talented painter. Amber slowly gets Mason to open up by forcing him to engage in conversation and she begins modelling for him. Slowly a tentative romance blossoms between them and Masons confidence grows with Amber’s encouragement. However Mason’s feelings of dread and paranoia are never far away.

The cinematography in Spiral is outstanding. Sudden, vivid images from Mason’s mind leave the viewer in no doubt as to the level of turmoil and terror he suffers. Mason’s grey drab cubicle workspace, and the gloominess of the city and it’s seemingly constant rain is contrasted by the rich colours in Mason’s artistic world with Amber’s beauty and personality shining through.

I watched the film wearing headphones and the sound editing and mixing are stunning, the sounds and effects during the flashbacks and Mason’s panic attacks gave me goose bumps. The jazz score is worthy of mention as it is integral to the story. I did a bit of research and it seems the producers of the film assembled a jazz band to literally just play along with the movie, recording everything they did, and that’s how the score came to be.

I won’t say any more about the story as it would spoil the plot, if you want a few more reviews check the imdb page.

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