Halloween VFX: The Mist

The Mist

I’ve chosen Frank Darabont’s 2007 film as it appears to be strangely underrated yet it’s one of the best horror movies to come from the states in many years.Based on a Stephen King novella of the same name and not to be aligned with the other horror-movie-weather-phenomenon, The Fog, The Mist isn’t a grandstanding showcase of set pieces. It’s more of a character driven piece than a VFX driven one. There is time invested in setting up the characters and a lot of the scenes could be translated to the stage, such is the focus of the character’s relationships under the hellish situation. The film only benefits from this, you begin to learn a little of the characters, empathise and ultimately root for (some of) them to survive. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a few of the crew from this went on to The Walking Dead; Darabont (writer / producer) Greg Nicotero (FX / make-up) as well as actors Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa McBride.

Our first clue as to what is awaiting the townsfolk trapped within the supermarket is when a the shop-boy is snatched by hooked tentacles and you’re left wondering , “So what do those belong to?!” From there, the tension is steadily cranked and gradually more and more creatures are revealed and one thing is for sure – they ain’t herbivores.

Greg Nicotero has one hell of a CV (or résumé if you prefer) and having him in charge of designing the creatures means that you’re going to see something special. Also enlisted was concept artist Bernie Wrightson, whose designs really influenced the appearance of the monsters. The things that pour through the wormhole are straight from hell. They’re look lies between something pre-historic and something out of a H.P. Lovecraft story. The scariest ones are the larger ones, the behemoths; they’re mostly obscured by the mist, but that’s part of what’s so creepy about them. Nicotero wanted to hint at the notion that these monsters were actually part of an eco-system (from whatever planet they were from) and this helps to sell the idea of the monsters even more.

The Mist Concepts

Some of the art behind The Mist.

As I mentioned though, the power of the movie lies within its characters and the climax of this is played out at the end in Drayton’s Land Cruiser. Without saying too much, it’s a real gut-punch of an ending that stuns in the way a film like this should. Kudos Mr Darabont.

Best bit
Whenever Drayton and his crew venture into the pharmacy to get some supplies. By this stage both you and the characters know the type of horror lurking outside, so there’s plenty at stake already. Thing is, the pharmacy is infested with evil skull spiders that shoot acidic webs. Terrifying, no? There’s some gruesome FX as we see someone they’ve previously cocooned and laid hundreds of eggs in. The stomach squirms with the little buggers until the explode out of him and add to the havoc.

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