At his first-ever Comic-Con appearance, Frank Darabont, the genius director of two previous Stephen King adaptations The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, and members of his cast and crew offered a captivating first look at The Mist. Most important for horror fans is the fact that Darabont wholly and lovingly embraces the genre, saying, "it's intense, it's a hard 'R' ... it's a horror movie." The director expressed puzzlement over filmmakers who "deny they've made a horror movie."

Marcia Gay Harden and Frank Darabont at Comic-Con photo
The Comic-Con crowd was treated to two clips from the movie, and without giving anything away, let me just say that the look and feel looks to be dead-on in terms of capturing the classic Stephen King novella. Darabont, who practically scoffed at the suggestion that the film had been shot digitally, intentionally used a film stock that shows more grain in the picture. His intent was to provide a "more old-school look on this one ... less pretty." Doing so subtly evokes the look of beloved '70s films from the director's youth, and it's a very nice effect, skillfully accomplished.

Also contributing to the immediacy of the film's appearance was Darabont's decision to steal The Shield's cinematographer and camera operators. Doing so exactly matched Darabont's approach to filming The Mist, which represented a drastic departure from his previous outings. Explaining that in wanting to escape his "wannabe Kubrick" style for this movie, "all of the camera work is improvised ... complete scenes [were shot] from beginning to end." As such, Darabont explained that the cameramen from the Shield " were like other actors ... you never knew where they were gonna be." This approach looks to have served the story very well indeed.

Darabont was joined onstage by stars Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden and Laurie Holden, as well as the film's creature effects designers and legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Speaking of legendary artists, much to the delight of the Comic-Con fans, the news that Bernie Wrightson was involved in some of the creature designs was met with excited applause. That H.P. Lovecraft's name was also invoked as an influence on the creature designs should please many a horror fan as well. All of the panelists eagerly participated in the discussion, and everyone's passion for the movie is evident.

Thomas Jane came right out and said, "it's the best goddamn thing I've ever been in." Based on what I saw and heard here in San Diego yesterday, I'm betting that when it rolls into theaters this November, The Mist is going to be among the best goddamn movies of the year, and that it will further cement Darabont as the definitive cinematic interpreter of Stephen King's work.