(In anticipation of the coolest day of the year, this month-long series will offer one recommended horror flick a day up through Oct. 31.)
THE MIST (2007). The Mist marks writer-director Frank Darabont's third adaptation of a Stephen King property, and because he's not shooting for Oscar gold this time around (the previous titles were the reasonably enjoyable but grotesquely overrated pair, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), he's able to ease up on the pedal of self-importance and deliver a "B"- style genre flick, albeit one offering some evaluations of human nature in between all the bloodletting. Owing a nod in the direction of John Carpenter's The Fog, this concerns itself with a group of people who are gathered at the local supermarket when a mist envelops the entire area. It soon becomes clear that something evil resides in the fog — oh, about the time that a bag boy gets shredded by a monstrous tentacle — and the shoppers decide that they should remain indoors rather than venture out into the parking lot. It's here that Darabont's script reveals its cynical roots, as a religious zealot named Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) converts many of the frightened survivors to her mode of thinking, a path that leads to a Jim Jones-like environment and at least one human sacrifice. Propelled by Harden's scary performance, Mrs. Carmody is a genuine threat, and she validates Darabont's contention that times of crisis are as likely to turn people against each other as they are to unite them against a common enemy. His pessimism also extends to other areas of the script, most notably a powerhouse ending.