Mist (The): 2-disc Collector's Edition
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (2nd April 2008).
The Film

Warning! The following review may stink of an over-defensive horror geek. But this defenses it not without reason. While "The Mist", directed by Frank Darabont, received better-than-mediocre reviews, and has taken in more than double its budget at the box office, I always had the feeling the film wasn’t understood, wasn’t appreciated, and I alone was the defender of it. When I saw this movie in theaters, I was blown away. This was the monster movie I had been waiting for, one that just hits all the right notes. However, everyone else I knew passed it off as “cheesy”, and the special effects “was trash”, and whenever I tried to explain to people that there is a certain level of intentional cheese on the movie, I was dismissed. Thankfully, the film has received an incredible double-disc treatment.

For those unfortunate enough to not have caught "The Mist" in cinemas, the story concerns David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his son (Nathan Gamble) head into town after a terrible storm wrecks their home. While in the shop, a mysterious mist covers the town, and anyone who goes out into seems to end up dead. The supermarket is packed with a wide array of characters, including skeptic Brent (Andre Braugher), timid store manager Ollie (Toby Jones), and insane religious-lady Mrs. Carmony (Marcia Gay Harden). The people in the store, being trapped and frightened, begin to butt heads, especially when supernatural monsters begin to appear outside the store. Is this the end of days, or a giant military mess up pouring in on the town, or both? While the inhabitants of the store try to answer these questions, they slowly turn on each other.

To me, "The Mist" is a perfect film. Darabont, while familiar with working on Stephen King adaptations, he really is out of his comfort zone with "The Mist", but this really just goes to show how talented of a writer/director he is. "The Mist" is shot almost like a documentary with wild zooms and hand held shots, really aiding the film with its realistic feel. While the movie’s dialogue is very unrealistic at times, I would hardly bill it as cheesy, as many others have. What we are offered is a modern spin on the classic monster movie dialogue, which feels both new and nostalgic. The monster designs are top notch, and I’ll try to keep it at that, because I’d hate to spoil what they look like at all. The choice to use very minimal soundtrack also compliments the film immensely, as it really helps the tension build; only using music at very key moments. And then there’s the film’s ending, which has been billed as one of the most shocking endings in movie history. I’m not sure if I would go that far, but for a Hollywood film, the ending is very unusual, but really amazing.

If having the theatrical cut wasn’t enough, the disc also includes a black and white cut of the film, of which Darabont originally intended to release. The studios didn’t know how to market a black and white horror film, so we are very fortunate to get this version of the film in the set, because it makes a perfect movie even more perfect. The black and white colors help emphasize the monster movie feel of the film, and also serves to mask up many of the admittedly amateurish-looking CG effects (which actually turn out looking amazing in black and white).

In the opening scene of "The Mist", David Drayton is painting a movie poster in his gallery. In the background hangs the poster for one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Thing" (1982). I never thought that "The Thing" could be topped by another monster-horror film, but am glad to say that I think our generation has found its incarnation of the John Carpenter classic. "The Mist" captures a certain essence only a few movies have been privy to, and while audiences today may not appreciate, I have a feeling in 20 years, people will praise the adventure of Thomas Jane in the same regard as Kurt Russell’s artic escapades of the 80’s.

Video

Both cuts of the film are offered in an impressive 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Whether you’re watching the color version or the B&W, there is little to complain about. The color version of the film looks good, and while there isn’t anything bad to say, it’s hard to claim it is that interesting. However, the black and white transfer of the film looks perfect. You can tell a lot of care went into the contrast between dark and light instead of just slapping a grayscale filter over the film.

Audio

The color version of "The Mist" is offered in both an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, while the B&W cut of the film is offered in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as an English stereo track. The 5.1 is impressive, and for a movie like this, it really needed to be. The movie doesn’t have a whole lot of music in it, so it has to make the most out of the movement of sound, and it accomplishes this in spades. Not only to the seemingly dull scenes fill up the room with background noise, but the monster sounds come through just as clear any other noise the film has to offer.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

Genius Products has an amazing wealth of extras packed into this 2-disc 'Collector's Edition' DVD set, including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, a documentary, some webisodes and theatrical trailers. They are described below:

DISC ONE:

First up on this disc is the feature-length audio commentary by director Frank Darabont (only on the color version). Darabont is very lively and rarely ever stops talking. He is constantly talking about how certain effects were achieved, what sort of homages the movie offers, and is overall just a really pleasant guy to listen to. This great commentary compliments the already great film. A part of me wishes that Stephen King could have been brought in, as the chemistry between the author and Darabont is legend.

Also on disc 1 are 8 deleted scenes. All the scenes contain optional audio commentary by Darabont, offering insight into why certain sequences were cut from the film. They are:

- “Steph says goodbye” running at 2 minutes and 8 seconds, in which David gets to see his wife one last time on-screen, as well as offering some character development for Brent.
- “After the Loading Dock” running at 2 minutes and 5 seconds, in which David, Ollie, and others discuss how to keep people in the store.
- “Carmody’s First Speech” running at 1 minute and 52 seconds, in which people doubt Norm’s disappearance, and Carmody acts crazy.
- “Carmody and Amanda” running at 3 minutes and 2 seconds, in which the conversation in the store bathroom is extended.
- “Norton Holds Court” running at 1 minute and 15 seconds, in which Brent thinks aloud, trying to work out the facts.
- “Hattie and David” running at 2 minutes and 15 seconds, in which in which David attempts to comfort a fellow store patron.
- “Jim and Myron” running at 1 minute and 8 seconds, in which Myron gets in a fight with Jim (William Sadler) over his new-found faith.
- “Confronting Jessup” running at 1 minute and 7 seconds, in which the dissenting crowd grill Jessup.

"Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist" featurette runs 7 minutes and 29 seconds, and serves as homage to the famous movie-poster artist. This movie really compliments the near-meta movie feel of the film, letting Darabont gush about Drew, as well as letting the artist speak about his method.

Also included are 3 webisodes from the film’s production. They are:

- “Day 10: Earthquake” running at 3 minutes and 18 seconds, in which the department store set is shaken.
- “Day 18: Burn Man” running at 4 minutes and 2 seconds, in which the method behind a character being lit on fire is shown.
- “Day 34: Franny, The Flamethrower” running at 2 minutes and 57 seconds, which is a behind the scenes look at a character taking out a monster with a makeshift flamethrower.

Disc 1’s special features conclude with a trailer gallery, containing:

- The film's original theatrical trailer running at 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer #2 running at 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer #3 running at 2 minutes and 19 seconds.

DISC TWO:

Disc 2 not only includes the black and white cut of the film, but a wealth of other extras as well. They are:

"When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist" is a documentary running at 37 minutes and 26 seconds, is a comprehensive look at the passion that went into making The Mist. This feature really shows that Darabont, while not having experience in directing a monster movie, really has a drive to do so unlike any other director with 2 films such as "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) and "The Green Mile" (1999) under their belt. This making-of interviews Stephen King, Darabont, and producers, tracing back to the source what drew Darabont to the story.

"Taming the Beast: Shooting Scene 35" featurette runs at 12 minutes and 12 seconds, outlines the specific production that went behind a particularly action-heavy sequence. Interviews with many members of the film’s crew emphasizes how complicated the scene was.

"Monsters Among Us: A Look At The Creature FX" is a featurette running at 12 minutes and 47 seconds, is a very interesting featurette showcasing all of the movie’s baddies, both in how they were designed and how they were brought to life on film.

"The Horror Of It All: The Visual FX of The Mist" featurette is the final extra on this disc and runs for 16 minutes and 5 seconds, talks about how Darabont found his special effects crew through Guillermo del Toro. The visual effects team had the work through the challenge of inserting FX into a fast paced, hand held film. Also, this featurette shows how involved Darabont was in the creation and feel of the visual effects.

Overall

The Film: A+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


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