The Mist (15)

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The Independent Culture

The Mist is one of the most downbeat, serious-minded dramas ever to feature gigantic tentacled aliens from another dimension. Adapted from a novella by Stephen King, it's set almost entirely in a rural New England supermarket. An unfeasibly buff artist, Thomas Jane, is stocking up with his son there one morning, when the supermarket is enveloped in a white fog, and we soon see that cheaply computer-generated beasties are lurking within it. Jane and the other shoppers lock the doors.

It sounds as if it should be a B-movie. But Frank Darabont, the writer-director, is going for some of the gravitas he brought to his two previous King adaptations, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. And so The Mist takes more than two hours to examine how easily a civilised group of friends and neighbours can break up into factions and tip into hysteria – especially if one of them, Marcia Gay Harden, is intoxicated by the notion that her well-thumbed Book of Revelation might be telling the literal truth. Some horror aficionados will be irritated by Darabont's decision to turn a Stephen King shocker into a deliberately paced Lord of the Flies. But to me, the film's creeping unease is preferable to horror's current fast-food recipe of blockheaded teenagers being chained up and tortured. It's nice to see a monster movie that's got some meat as well as blood.