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WEINSTEIN COMPANY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Frank Darabont
Cast:
Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Nathan Gamble
Writing Credits:
Frank Darabont, Stephen King (novel)

Tagline:
Fear Changes Everything.

Synopsis:
In this adaptation of the Stephen King novella, shoppers are trapped in a supermarket after it is enveloped in a strange mist filled with monstrous creatures. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is just an unassuming artist, but when the terror hits, he rallies the other customers to defend themselves against the horrible beasts. Will these small-town folks be able to survive the assault and find out where that creepy mist came from anyway? Is it from the nearby military base?

Box Office:
Budget
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.931 million on 2423 screens.
Domestic Gross
$25.592 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $32.95
Release Date: 3/25/2008

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Frank Darabont
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist” Featurette
• “Webisodes”
• Trailer Gallery
DVD Two:
• “The Director’s Vision: The Complete Feature Film in Black and White”
• Frank Darabont Introduction to the Black and White Version of the Film
• “When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist” Featurette
• “Taming the Beast: The Making of Scene 35” Featurette
• “Monsters Among Us: A Look at the Creature FX” Featurette
• “The Horror of It All: The Visual FX of The Mist” Featurette


• Collectible Booklet


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Mist: Collector's Edition (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 24, 2008)

Frank Darabont first adapted and directed a Steven King story for the big screen back in 1994. Although The Shawshank Redemption made little impact on the box office, it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and found much greater life on home video. It’s been widely embraced by movie fans and has become regarded as a classic.

Darabont took on King again with 1999’s The Green Mile. That one made a bunch of money and also grabbed plenty more critical plaudits. Another Best Picture nomination followed.

I doubt that Darabont or anyone else involved expected more Oscar love for the director’s third King adaptation, 2007’s The Mist. While the first two flicks provided prison-related dramas, Mist went with the King we know best and a horror theme. That sort of movie doesn’t tend to get Academy affection, so its grand total of zero Oscar nods came as no surprise.

However, the lack of box office success did catch many off-guard. Mist took in a mere $25 million in the US, which was even less than the then-ignored Shawshank earned 13 years earlier – and also a sliver less than Darabont’s prior flick, 2001’s The Majestic. I regard Majestic as a bigger bomb than Mist just because the latter featured no bankable stars while the former boasted Jim Carrey; it’s the actor’s lowest total since he became a movie star in 1994. At least Mist came with a low-key roster of talent, and I doubt that its November 21 release date helped; the day before Thanksgiving doesn’t sound like a smart choice for a horror movie.

Still, Mist doesn’t bode well for Darabont’s track record, since three of his four directorial efforts made less than $30 million. Did Mist deserve a better fate? Yeah, probably, though the film sputters too often for me to view it as a neglected gem.

After a massive electrical storm, a strange mist rolls off a lake into a small Maine town. Artist David Drayton heads to the local supermarket along with his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) and neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher). Despite a power outage at the store, all seems fine – until a siren sounds.

What’s the fuss? The mist comes to cover the town, and with it an unnatural, deadly force. The folks in the supermarket hole up in there as they try to deal with the threat posed by the creatures hidden in the soup – and internal frictions among the various factions that emerge.

One must assume that King named this story The Mist because The Fog was already taken. (Gorillas in the Mist might’ve still been available when King published the tale in 1980, but since it features no simians, that title wouldn’t have made a ton of sense.)

It’d be a mistake to view Mist as a rip-off of John Carpenter’s 1980 flick, though. They share the notion that something evil comes to a small town via mist/fog, but they differ in most other ways. Fog fell into the ghost story genre, while Mist offers a much more straightforward monster movie.

Mist does show a Carpenter influence, though, as it definitely nods in the direction of 1982’s The Thing - with a little Alien and Arachnophobia thrown in for good measure. The movie doesn’t come across as a rip-off of those flicks, but it clearly notes their inspiration.

For a guy who made his name with character-driven pieces like Shawshank and Green Mile, Darabont shows a surprisingly weak ability to create interesting personalities here. Most of the participants are either bland and without much life – such as Drayton and new schoolteacher Amanda Dunfrey (Laurie Holden), both of whom remain rather faceless – or offer predictable stereotypes. Norton the argumentative lawyer and Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) the fire-breathing religious zealot falls into the latter domain. These characters bring little to the film beyond their general value as plot devices.

And as filler. Mist probably runs a good 30 minutes too long, especially during its first half. Endless dialogue scenes play less like useful exposition and more like tedious attempts to stretch the movie’s length. Even with all these sequences, the personalities never become three-dimensional characters, and the extended time we spend with them harms the flick’s tension level.

I can’t say I’m wild about the movie’s attitude toward religion. No one will mistake me for a Holy Roller, but Mist sneers at religion in a rather abrasive and condescending way. One could argue that it focuses more on the opportunistic “mob mentality” than it does actual religious beliefs – or even that Mrs. Carmody represents a false prophet instead of a true believer – but the effect remains the same. The film turns those with religious fervor into simple-minded cretins.

While Darabont flails during the flick’s character pieces, he does quite well for himself through the action beats. During those occasions, Mist becomes a tight, claustrophobic monster movie. It still wears its influences on its sleeve, but Darabont has the good sense to know that less is more. We get modest glimpses of the various creatures but not enough to remove their mystery. They stay hidden enough to maintain an aura of real menace, and at these times, the flick benefits from an oppressive level of basic fear that gathers at the pit of your stomach.

Those parts of The Mist are enough to make it generally enjoyable. The other flaws cause more than a few problems, but no one ever says they loved a certain horror flick because it provided three-dimensional characters. Sure, well-rendered participants will make a good monster movie better, but they’re not at the root of what leads to an effective scarefest.

So even though I can find a lot of reasons to gripe about The Mist - and I didn’t even get started on the gratuitous use of handheld camerawork -–the flick delivers enough terror to ensure that it usually overcomes its concerns. It’s the kind of film that leaves a jitter in your body for a while after it ends, so it certainly ensures a viewer impression.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

The Mist appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I found little about which to complain during this solid transfer.

Sharpness looked very good. Despite a little light edge enhancement, I noticed virtually no signs of softness. Definition was occasionally dodgy due to camera choices, but these didn’t reflect problems with the transfer. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to occur, and source flaws were absent, though the flick tended to be grainier than expected.

With its murky setting, the palette of Mist stayed pretty subdued. It used natural tones in a quiet manner that matched its tone. Colors were appropriate for this tale. Blacks came across as deep and dense, while shadows were decent. Low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque, but not to a problematic degree. Overall, I found this image to succeed.

I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Mist. Much of the mix stayed quiet since a lot of it revolved around arguments in the supermarket. However, when the creatures in the soup attacked, the audio became much more engrossing. Creepy-crawlies charged from all sides and made this a spooky and involving piece. The movie represented these elements with good localization and packed them together in a tight manner. The surrounds added a good kick during the action scenes and made this a lively track.

The quality of the audio satisfied as well. Speech was crisp and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded robust and dynamic, and effects worked along the same lines. Those elements seemed full and accurate, with good low-end punch. I found a lot of good material in this strong track.

Quite a few extras round out this “Two-Disc Collector’s Edition” of The Mist. On DVD One, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Frank Darabont. He provides a running, screen-specific discussion; producer Denise Huth sits in the studio as well and occasionally chimes in, but Darabont covers 99 percent of the piece. He looks at changes from the original novella, deleted scenes and editing, sets and locations, various effects, cast and performances, the film’s low budget and quick production, the camerawork and other aspects of the visual style.

I really liked Darabont’s commentaries for The Green Mile and Shawshank, and this chat was another good one. It didn’t seem quite as valuable as those pieces, but then again, Mist doesn’t offer as much meat to discuss. Darabont tends toward too much praise – he seems love everybody even remotely connected to the film – but he gives us a lot of good details about the production and makes this a brisk and informative chat.

Eight Deleted Scenes run a total of 14 minutes, 47 seconds. These include “Steph Says Goodbye” (2:07), “After the Loading Dock” (2:05), “Carmody’s First Speech” (1:51), “Carmody and Amanda” (3:01), “Norton Holds Court” (1:14), “Hattie and David” (2:14), “Jim and Myron” (1:07) and “Confronting Jessup” (1:06). “Goodbye” has a little value since it adds some character info about Norton, and “Amanda” makes Carmody a bit more three-dimensional. I don’t see a lot of worth in the others.

We can view these with or without commentary from Darabont. He chats about the segments and why he chose to remove them. As usual, Darabont gives us good information in a lively manner.

A featurette entitled Drew Struzan: An Appreciation of an Artist goes for seven minutes, 28 seconds, and provides remarks from Darabont, artist Struzan and filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro. We learn a little about Struzan’s work and how his career is reflected in The Mist. It’s a decent little homage to a painter whose efforts you will definitely recognize – even if you don’t know his name.

Three Webisodes last a total of 10 minutes, 16 seconds. These cover “Day 10: Earthquakes” (3:18), “Day 18: Burn Man” (4:01) and “Day 34: Franny, the Flamethrower” (2:56). First aired on the Internet, these short clips take us to the set to see aspects of the various scenes’ creation. I like their fly on the wall immediacy, and they’re fun to see.

Disc One ends with a trailer gallery. It includes three promos for The Mist.

Over on DVD Two, the most unusual extra comes from The Director’s Vision: The Complete Feature Film in Black and White. This offers the same cut as the theatrical version but offers a monochromatic rendition of the flick. In a three-minute and 16-second Introduction to this edition, Darabont explains his rationale for it and tells us that he prefers it to the color theatrical version. I think it’s cool that the DVD offers this choice.

Four featurettes complete the set. When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist lasts 37 minutes, 25 seconds and includes notes from Darabont, Huth, novelist Stephen King, co-producers Randi Richmond and Anna Garduno, production designer Gregory Melton, director of photography Rohn Schmidt, camera operators Bill Gierhart and Richard Cantu, editor Hunter Via, and actors Andre Braugher, William Sadler, Frances Sternhagen, Thomas Jane, Jeffrey DeMunn, Toby Jones, Marcia Gay Harden, Robert Treveiler, Laurie Holden, Sam Witwer, Alexa Davalos and Buck Taylor. We hear about what drew Darabont to The Mist and its adaptation for the screen, the film’s schedule and budgetary restrictions, sets, locations and production design, cast, characters and performances, camerawork and editing, and the flick’s ending.

Since Darabont already covered so much in his commentary, it becomes a minor challenge for “Darkness” to find new material. It doesn’t expand into many new topics, but it offers different perspectives on those topics, so it proves valuable. Add to that a lot of great footage from the set and “Darkness” becomes a good little show.

For a look at one specific segment, we head to Taming the Beast: Shooting Scene 35. This 12-minute and 11-second program provides statements from Darabont, Huth, Gierhart, Cantu, Via, Garduno, Schmidt, first AD KC Colwell, special makeup and creature effects supervisor Gregory Nicotero, and visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell. “Beast” examines the issues involved in “Scene 35”, which is the one in which the creatures attack the supermarket. It follows the same template as “Darkness” except it sticks just with the areas required to execute the single sequence. It goes through the different areas in a satisfying and entertaining manner. I particularly like the info about the changes made to the scene.

Monsters Among Us: A Look at the Creature FX fills 12 minutes, 46 seconds with info from Darabont, Nicotero, Huth, Holden, Davalos, Witwer, Jane, Burrell, concept design artist Bernie Wrightson, and actor Nathan Gamble. “Monsters” gives us a glimpse of the design and execution of the movie’s beasties. More nice details emerge in this enjoyable piece.

Finally, The Horror of It All: The Visual FX of The Mist runs 16 minutes, four seconds and features Darabont, Nicotero, Burrell, Via, Wrightson, compositing supervisor Tom Williamson, digital compositor Votch Levi, animation supervisor James Straus, and CG supervisor Akira Orikasa. This one shows the work the computer effects folks did for the flick. Like “Monsters”, it fleshes out the technical side of things in a positive way.

In addition to all these disc-based materials, the set includes an eight-page booklet. This text provides a few interesting comments from Darabont and King.

Despite an array of storytelling problems, The Mist manages to become a fairly effective horror movie. It delivers the appropriate scares and tension at a high enough level to make it worthwhile for fans of the genre. The DVD offers pretty good picture and audio as well as a very nice roster of extras that includes an enjoyable audio commentary and an alternate version of the film. While I wouldn’t call The Mist a genre classic, I liked it and recommend it to horror fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2666 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main