Stephen King's The Mist
What happens when a random assortment of humans are forced to collectively deal with incredible terror? Do they band together in unflinching patriotism ("United We Stand" style?) or do they cower in fear and turn on each other? This is the question that underlies Stephen King's The Mist.
Based on a Stephen King novella and adapted for the screen by writer/director Frank Darabont (who has some experience with successful King adaptations), The Mist is the story of a small town that becomes shrouded in a mysterious and malevolent fog. The brunt of the film takes place in a claustrophobic grocery store (classic horror film convention) where a band of survivors barricade themselves in and (hopefully) out of harm's way. Some doubters venture outside into the mist and are never heard from again. Some come back in pieces.
The grocery store assortment of townsfolk includes heroic alpha male David (Thomas Jane) and his young son (Nathan Gamble), supermarket manager Ollie (the fantastic Toby Jones), a newcomer to the town (Laurie Holden), and a smattering of other slice-of-life stereotypes (young, old, smart, stupid, brawny, nerdy, etc). The most interesting of these characters is a Bible-toting, fire-and-brimstone spewing shrew named Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden)—who provides one of the most hateful and vicious "Christian" characters in recent cinematic history. From the get-go, Mrs. Carmody explains the mist and its apparent monsters in terms of the apocalypse: "It's the end of days! It's death! It's judgment day! Star Wormwood blazes!"
As things go from bad to worse and the body count rises, Mrs. Carmody's vocal pronouncements of a "vengeful, Old Testament God" unleashing his wrath through these "plagues" begins to amass followers in a cultish, Lord of the Flies type way. Her Fred Phelps-esque hate speech polarizes the grocery store community, ultimately creating two factions with fundamentally different ideas as to how to respond to the increasingly desperate situation. David leads the "normal group" as they try to fend off the deadly forces outside the store as well—as Carmody's increasingly bloodthirsty mob within (whose battle cry is "expiation!"). Eventually the mayhem—accompanied throughout by thick tension and grisly violence—culminates in David's group escaping the hostile haven of the grocery store and trying their luck in the mist. What happens in the final ten minutes brings the film to another level of horror entirely.
The Mist is a decidedly dark (with a capital D) turn for Darabont, whose last three films (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Majestic) were strong affirmations of humanity's basic goodness. Not so with The Mist, however, which seems to have a much more pessimistic view of human nature. The film's "monsters outside the door" setup may seem like an M. Night Shyamalan type of "community-building" horror film (i.e., The Village) but The Mist is probably closer in spirit to Quentin Tarantino (i.e., dark, unrepentantly cynical, cartoonishly violent).