As one of what novelist Stephen King calls his Constant Readers, I was jazzed when word came that filmmaker Frank Darabont—he of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile—was making a movie of King's classic novella, The Mist. How, then, did a straightforward little tale about prehistoric monsters gobbling down the hapless citizens of a modern-day town become such a lumbering and depressing movie? Man-eaters hide out in a weirdly thick fog that's settled over Castle Rock, Maine, after an unusually violent storm. With the power out, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) heads into town with his 9-year-old son to buy supplies. As they wait in a long checkout line, a bloodied man runs in, screaming, "There's something in the mist!" Soon, giant tentacles slip under the loading-dock door and drag away Norm the bag boy, a gruesome sight that only Drayton and three others witness. Neither King nor Darabont explains just why the dozens of other people inside the store can't hear the kid's bloodcurdling screams, but in any case, it falls to Drayton to convince the skeptical customers that there's danger in that there mist. What follows is a lot of crying and speechifying and not nearly enough people-eating. At just over two hours, The Mist is the shortest movie Darabont has made, and it's still too long. Less chatter, more monster, please.
Jane and son (Nathan Gamble) get the vapors.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Wed., Nov. 21. Rated R. 126 minutes.