One of the big things that CGI has never been able to quite get right are tentacles. They always look less flesh like and more like stretchy rubbery tings. The tentacles in Stephen King’s The Mist, lovingly adapted and directed by Frank Darabont from the Steven King novella, still don’t make the grade, but it’s not the monsters we’re wait for to attack in this keen study of human behavior under great amounts of stress – the stress being the end of mankind coming in the form of a mist. So it doesn’t matter that at times we have a quick flash back to a 1950′s monster movie. That isn’t to say that some of the monsters won’t creep the heck out of you, there’s a moment that reminded me of the stomach bursting scene in Alien and Aliens, where a man is hung against a wall, only an alien doesn’t burst out of him. Truly gooey creepy fun that still makes my spine tingle. Darabont finds the balance between human fighting and monster attacks, allowing for the monster attacks to amp up the tension in the general store that these civilians find themselves unlucky enough to be trapped in until things almost explode – at least they have food, right?
A couple years ago Steven Spielberg and David Koepp tried to capture the small regular man story amidst an alien invasion in War of the Worlds. The idea was to see this terrible event through the eyes of a regular man and not from the perspective of the military or the scientists. It was not supposed to be an event movie they proclaimed. Can you hear me guffawing. It didn’t really work all that well. The spectacle was too big, too much, the human story was clunky and Spielberg was falling back on old tricks (the aliens in the basement scene could easily have been raptors – yawn!). The best scene in that film occurred when mobs of people bum rushed Cruise’s minivan with his daughter still inside. It was frightening watching humans react in such a way, willing to hurt whatever is in their way to save themselves. Well, The Mist captures that feeling throughout pretty much the whole film.