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.