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Originally published Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

"The Mist" gives new meaning to "bad weather"

"The Mist," the latest Stephen King adaptation, is proof that the dude knows how to mine your nightmares.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Movie review 2.5 stars

"The Mist," with Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, Laurie Holden and Toby Jones. Directed and written by Frank Darabont from a story by Stephen King. 127 minutes. Rated R for violence, terror and gore, and language. Several theaters.

The latest Stephen King adaptation is proof that the dude knows how to mine your nightmares.

Not so much the creatures from another dimension besieging the terrified people barricaded in a grocery store.

More so the religious nutcase in the store preying on people's fear to whip them into a frenzy and control them. Like being stuck in the middle of the worst imaginable crisis with Pat Robertson, and he won't shut his hateful yap. The blunt microcosm of current events also implicitly addresses the question: How do you approach horror when we've been living in a culture of fear for so long? The answer — or at least one of them — is that few things are scarier than superstition and ignorance trumping reason in dangerous times.

That element, along with a knockout ending that'll make you say, "Whoa, they really went there," elevates the fairly familiar — if well-crafted — material into a ride worth taking. It'll look especially familiar to fans of the popular "Silent Hill" video games, which are said to have been inspired by King's 1980 story.

After a freak storm hits a Maine village and knocks a tree through a wall of the home of movie-poster-artist David Drayton (Thomas "The Punisher" Jane), he drives to the store for supplies with his little boy (Nathan Gamble) and his jerk neighbor (Andre Braugher). Before you can say "exposition," a thick fog descends, and people who go out into it tend not to come back. At least not whole.

At first tentacles with sharp teeth (which look like the things from King's "Dreamcatcher") come from the mist. Then giant bugs. Then much worse. What are they and where are they from? Some furtive soldiers trapped in the store know something.

Drayton emerges as a natural leader among the grocery store's cast of characters, which also includes a gutsy little clerk (Toby Jones, who played Capote in "Infamous"), a redneck (William Sadler), a hot schoolteacher (Laurie Holden, from the "Silent Hill" movie) and the fanatical Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden). As the attacks grow more terrifying, more people in the store pay heed to her rants about a God who's been mocked too long and now "demands His retribution in blood." The price she suggests they pay is similar, by the way, to the one in King's "Storm of the Century."

Director and screenwriter Frank Darabont was also responsible for the great "Shawshank Redemption" and the treacly "Green Mile" from King. He's ditched the stately approach of those for one that's snappier, but bogs down when there's less action. There's too much stagey dialogue during the bickering and debating. But there's nothing like giant, acid-shooting spiders to break that up.

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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