If there’s one director who should helm every Stephen King adaptation to come, it’s Frank Darabont. As if Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile weren’t enough to convince you, along comes The Mist, one of the best creature features of this decade, if not all time.
There’s more to The Mist than simply creatures though. A morality tale is at work here, delving into the human psyche and how different people react to the unknown. The interplay between the characters, led by David Drayton (Thomas Jane), is the heart of this horror film.
Of course, when it comes down to it, people have come for the creatures. The Mist provides in all areas. While some of the CG does appear somewhat cheap, the film never loses its intensity. The monsters are bizarre and intriguing, not to mention believable. Action is intense with a limited soundtrack to give the feel of this actually happening.
The lasting impression of The Mist is surely its ending. Without divulging any spoilers, it’s shocking, depressing, and absolutely going against the Hollywood norm. It’s special because it’s daring, gutsy, and unexpected. It’s not a surprise like The Sixth Sense, but something on an entirely new emotional level.
For some, that ending may ruin the film for them. There’s no question that it’s hard to take and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. However, that’s the point of the film, to show humanity on all of its levels. It’s what raises The Mist above its genre clichés, to make a complete film worthy of discussion, something that can rarely be said of creature features. This is a phenomenal movie.
The Mist comes to Blu-ray in two flavors: Color and black & white. Darabont originally wanted to shoot without color, but that wasn’t the case. As such, the B&W version is the “director’s cut.”
The color version has problems, but they’re associated with the source. Contrast is completely overblown, and the hues waver into neon territory. The color literally bleeds out. Sharp and detailed are also ways to describe it, but this is the extreme side of hi-def. The AVC encode maintains a solid bit-rate, hovering around 25 MBPS, but that’s not enough to cover up the source issues that make the movie flat out ugly.
On the other hand, without the blooming hues, the colorless cut is actually preferable. While the contrast still runs hot, the detail is better represented here. The film grain comes through better, and the black levels are still rich and bold. Some may enjoy the neon hues, but it never feels natural compared to the B&W version on disc 2.
Both editions of the film deliver a deep, loud 5.1 TrueHD mix. The surrounds are active constantly, the effect of creatures flying through the soundfield during the first major attack sequence is spectacular. Immersion is high. The LFE channel gets a major workout, especially as the giant “thing” walks by during the final drive before the ending.
The first disc houses all of the extra features, and there’s a lot to going on. Darabont delivers a passionate commentary, and was adamant about taking on this project. And yes, he does get into the ending and why he chose to go that route. He follows the film up by discussing 10 deleted scenes that run about 15 minutes. These are all character development that were better off left where they were.
A rather self-congratulatory conversation between Stephen King and Darabont lasts 12 minutes, and jumps between topics without ever being fully involved. When Darkness Comes is the core making-of piece, running nearly 40 minutes. It’s exhaustive without making the other extras feel useless.
Three featurettes spend time on the special effects and creature designs, and these total up to around a half hour. Monsters Among Us focuses on the practical effects, Horror of it All on the CG stuff, and Taming the Beast covers the big insect attack inside the grocery. Drew Struzan: Appreciation of an Artist is a brief seven minute featurette on the poster artist, someone every movie fan is aware of even if they don’t know it. Finally, three brief webisodes look into filming specific scenes, running a little over 10 minutes.