The Mist, but I got to it this evening, and—hoooey—I'm thinking that in terms of intensity it may rival Alien and Carpenter's The Thing, which have for years been my standards for monster-movie intensity.
There be spoilers here, so if that makes you unhappy, vacate the premises with all possible haste.
The novella is my favorite of all King's work, at least that I've read to date. The movie stays very true to its source, and where it does diverge, it's mainly in elaborating the characters. The creatures are quite chilling in appearance and execution; on occasion, the CGI is a wee tad less-than-perfect, but never poor enough to spoil the effectiveness of the imagery. The acting is first-rate across the board, and I was very happy to see Frances Sternhagen and Jeffrey DeMunn, who are a couple of my favorite character actors. DeMunn in particular has had a good run in several King-based films, such as Storm of the Century, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile.
Among horror fans—and non-fans, for that matter—the grim (some say cruel) ending is a point of some contention.
To me, the end felt a too-obvious exercise in irony; I saw it coming as soon as they got past the big critter of the novella's ending. Still, I didn't get the feeling that it was necessarily continuous narrative at the end—that the military was literally just a mile away. We're focused on Drayton, whose perspective by this point is probably skewed as all get-out. The moments shown in the last minutes of the film might have been minutes...or hours. Or more. Not that it particularly matters—just an idea that occurred to me as I was watching it.
I didn't hate the ending by any means, and it certainly didn't ruin the whole thing (as the ending of The Stand does for me). I didn't think it stretched credibility to think the military could have gotten as far as they did cleaning up the situation; the critters were quite mortal, after all. Still, I think I'd have been just as happy to see it end ambiguously, as the novella did. That was pretty damn grim in and of itself.
Some have said that moviegoers have ended up laughing at the ending. Where I saw it, no one was laughing. The only thing I did hear was from a group of folks going out who were shaking their heads and muttering, "He cowarded out. He just cowarded out."
Maybe. Easy to say when you're sitting in a movie theater that's not under assault by the unearthly (and you're not terribly fussy about proper English usage). Putting myself into that character, it's quite conceivable I might have done the same thing. Had I been there with my child, and I truly believed that the alternative was one of those things getting hold of her, well...I think I could. I've always believed there are worse things than death, particularly having lived through the long, lingering demise of my father. To spare someone such a horror... I think I could.
All in all, I'm very happy with director Darabont's rendering of The Mist. I'm certain I'll be hitting the theater to see it at least once more, and it'll be a keeper once it's released on DVD.