Mist, The (DVD)
Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Laurie Holden, Marcia Gay Harden
Directed by Frank Darabont
Distributed by Dimension / Genius Products, LLC.
Two days. I sat across from an incredibly cerebral Andre Braugher and asked how long he thought it would take for the world to go to hell in the face of terror the likes of which we see in The Mist. "Two days," he said without hesitation, mirroring the timetable of the film itself. I was taken aback by the speed at which he answered and seeing this, the man repeated ... "Two days" and took a sip from his coffee. You could tell he had given this some thought while shooting the film and was emphatic in his trust in human nature crumbling in nothing flat.
At one moment it seems as if cleaning up after a storm is the biggest problem a small town could face. Soon, however, an undulating mist crawls down from the mountainside, hiding all manor of terror within. David Drayton (Jane) has hit the town shopping center with his son (Gamble) and keyed up, somewhat estranged neighbor Brent (Braugher) for supplies when the mist begins its wash over the town, leaving blood curdling screams in its wake. Now, close to two dozen ordinary people are trapped in a typical grocery store with a horde of creatures, the stuff of nightmares, laying in wait.
With Frank Darabont conveying complete love for the source material by Stephen King, we knew we were in for something special. With Greg Nicotero creating creatures based on concept sketches from the legendary Bernie Wrightston, we were assured nothing short of amazing. What we got was a monster fest with no skimping on the blood flow and six fruity flavors of gore all wrapped around an ultra-realistic tale of human interaction to the nth degree. Take a group of already frightened people leading simple lives, toss in a religious extremist (Harden) to whip those people into a desperate frenzy, and you have a recipe for chaos. Plain and simple, this is a story of people just trying to stay alive for one more day. It is also important to note that this film has the most gut-wrenching ending of any film that's come about for quite some time, be it a serious drama or hardcore horror. The recent Orphanage came damn close, but The Mist presents a moment of fragile humanity backed into a room with no exits. It is nothing short of a remarkable piece of work and, in a world of remakes, is entirely unexpected.
The two-disc collector’s edition is packed with an obscene amount of extras, which you can argue is to be expected when a director loves his work so much, but as we know all too well, sometimes the movie company has the last word. Nevertheless, that's not the case here. If you enjoyed the hell out of this movie as I did, all the extras are like so much buttered popcorn you can’t stop eating until your head is throbbing from sodium overload. To start, we have the commentary from Frank Darabont, who as I’ve said, is so jazzed about his work that you can’t help but enjoy hearing him talk about every little nuance. Dead honest, I watched the entire film, again, with the commentary. Next we have deleted scenes, another item I had to watch twice as the optional commentary was available. For the most part, these are extra bits clipped from the starts and stops of sequence ... a line yanked here, a look pulled there. All are sacrificed for pacing as Darabont was convinced this should be a two-hour film, come hell or high water. What is excised is nothing you’d miss. Since this is the case, the commentary is similar, only stating why the pieces were chopped and uttering the same refrain of "pacing pacing pacing."
Tom Jane’s character is a movie poster artist, and being a huge geek for film, Darabont thought it would be perfect to model the character after Drew Struzan, a man whose work you’ve most likely seen but didn’t realize. Struzan’s work is seen in David Drayton’s studio as he works on a poster for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, a fantastic little Easter egg for King fans. Darabont gives us a love note to Struzan in a featurette titled An Appreciation of an Artist. Behind-the-scenes webisodes give us a tour of pivitol scenes, hosted by Darabont, as he shows us how they pulled off items like the earthquake, setting a man on fire, and Frances Sternhagen getting all badass with a homemade flame thrower. Lastly, you’ve got all three trailers added for good measure.
On Disc Two you’ll find a special treat in a black and white version of the entire film with an optional intro from Darabont. A film with rolling mist, glaring beams of artificial light and tense, shadowy moments, lends itself to this format. I watched all the way through (note this is my third viewing) wondering what it would have been like if my first screening had been in black and white, and they, knowing it would play that way, enhanced certain items to play off of this. I’d almost like them to throw the film back into post, turn up the contrast a bit and play off the shadows more digitally as to create a creepier feel in black and white. Hardcore film geeks wll most likely applaud the addition nonetheless.
When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist is a close to forty-minute featurette with quickie interviews with cast and crew, conveying the breakneck speed at which this production was shot and how it bonded them all. The pacing is much like the film itself as there is always something interesting to see, and the cast appear more than willing to expound on this unique experience which they liken more closely to stage acting. With two cameras filming at all times, we are able to travel not only around a scene but within it, sometimes shoving key characters aside for a look at the action beyond them. Again, I think the hardcore film buffs will appreciate the level of detail we are given into how this production pulled things off, and at the same time, a fanboy like myself can still enjoy the controlled chaos rolled out before me.
Taming the Beast: The Making of Scene 35 zooms in on the most psychotic moment of the film in which giant bugs and flesh eating, bird-like creatures break into the store. Some characters will be eaten, others stung to death, and still others set ablaze. To have all this action happening while a small army of actors fight off creepy crawlies elsewhere at the same time is a feat in itself. Looking at it as only one scene among many is mindblowing. Monsters Among Us: A Look at Creature F/X will probably be your favorite extra as we take a trip to monster island with the lord and master of KNB FX, Greg Nicotero. This is your best opportunity to get a close look at vulture teradactyls, spider monsters, giant stinging flies, and a swarm of tentacles with a taste for The Shermanator. The perfect complement to this is The Horror of It All: The Visual F/X of The Mist where we get a glimpse at how digital effects were seamlessly laid into a real world and, astoundingly, come off as believable. Sometimes it is a little thing like the mist itself while other times it is a creature on fire flying frantically through a supermarket ... or this film’s show stopper in the baffling, Cthulhu-like, mountain sized creature at the film’s end. THAT alone is worth the price of a rental, at the very least.
All this gushing spells one thing. If you enjoyed The Mist, the only way to own it is with the two disk collector’s edition. To further entice you, Genius has even included a bonus booklet with further thoughts from Darabont set against some beautiful imagery, the cover of which is painted by Drew Struzan himself. The perfect keepsake for one holy hell of a thrill ride.
5 out of 5
6,000 out of 5
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