Stephen King's The Mist: Two-Disc Collector's Edition – DVD Review

themist
Available at Amazon.com

Imagine yourself caught up in a wild array of people that are all stationed in one location. Not a location such as a town, huge arena, or even a city park. No, put yourself into a local grocery store with about thirty residents from your city. Only pick about five that you know or are acquainted with. You can’t step outside; hell, you can’t even see outside. The only thing you know is that you are trapped. Without your family. Without weapons. Without knowledge of what is going on outside the four walls around you.

David Drayton is an artist living in a small New England town with his wife and son Billy. A sudden storm comes up one night and almost destroys the entire lakeside community in which he lives, taking down trees and cutting all electricity in the process. David decides to head into town for supplies and even takes along Billy and his snobby next-door neighbor, Brent Norton. Norton is a big shot attorney and always feels as if people are out to get him, but today seems to be the one day he and David are finally getting along.

Upon arriving at the grocery store, they notice almost everyone in town had the same idea and that the power is out there too. They commence with their shopping as normal until a couple police cars and a fire truck go screaming by. David also noticed a few trucks full of soldiers on their way to the store. Then it happened. A local man came running into the store complete with a bloody nose and yelling.

“Something…in the mist!”

It is then that the doors are locked tight and a strange mist comes rolling in very quickly and very heavily. A few make a break for their cars, but the mist consumes them and all that can be heard are their screams. Those still in the grocery store clamor inside and peer outside with unknowing stares. What is out there? What could have possibly happened to make those people scream as they did? And will the walls and plate glass windows be able to keep whatever it is out?

The Mist can be chalked right up as another success for the team of Frank Darabont and Stephen King. It may not have the same feel as The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile, but they aren’t the same type of stories either. Here is the film that Dreamcatcher should have been. It delivers tension, suspense, horror, betrayal, loyalty, and every other imaginable emotion that someone could feel in a little over two hours. While some may say that the film drags a bit in the middle; I’ll admit it slows down considerably, but you can’t expect non-stop action from a film unless you’re watching something from Michael Bay.

Once again Darabont is blessed with a stellar cast as Thomas Jane is fantastic in the lead role of David Drayton. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors and you will understand why when you see this film. He portrays the role of not only a great leader, but a person that is still just an average Joe. One of the greatest things you get from Jane is the impeccable way he showcases emotion. When you see anguish on his face, you’ll begin to believe he is truly in disbelief and pain.

Marcia Gay Harden may just have played her greatest role yet as the Bible-thumping Mrs. Carmody. Not only will she make you think as she did to almost everyone in the grocery store, but she’ll make you hate her. Her character is designed to piss you off, and she pulls it off flawlessly. Throw in memorable performances from Andre Braugher (Norton) as always and Toby Jones (Ollie) and it becomes a star-studded performance. And it is hard to find a more believable little boy then Nathan Gamble who plays the younger Drayton. I’m not sure what they did to get that kid to cry so well, but it sure as hell had me thinking someone had just stolen his puppy.

Having seen The Mist in theatres, it was an experience I’ll never forget. Witnessing the sheer terror and the unknowing feelings of whatever is out there hits home very strongly. Now watching the film at home, every one of those feelings came back and with even more force. Stephen King is a master of fear and terror which is evidenced here but not in the ways you may be thinking. Sure his talent for building up the unknown and putting monsters on display makes your blood run cold, but it’s more then that. King and Darabont have shown why the human race is at such risk, and that is due to feuding with one another. Toby Jones may have said it best in the film when he stated, “Put more then two men in a room, and soon they’ll be plotting on how to kill each other.”

I’ve never read King’s short story, but I know how it ended. For those that aren’t aware of it, Darabont changed the ending for the film to give it more closure, and it was done with King’s blessing. When it comes time for the conclusion of the film and you think you know what is coming; you actually have no idea. There is no better way that Darabont could have ended the film then the way he did it and I for one think it is phenomenal. It left me speechless and in complete awe. Just when you think that complete hell has arrived, it’s then you fall ten more levels to the darkest depths.

The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and it is gorgeous right down to the small details of blood on a man’s face or the beautiful paintings reflecting Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” novel series. Every single aspect of the film is shot in glorious and stunning colors which are vibrant when needed and dull when the mist overcomes them.

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and this is something that brings The Mist up yet another notch on the creepy scale. There is barely a soundtrack except for a couple scenes at most so everything you hear is either dialogue or sound effects. The voices heard from all around you as they’re in the supermarket. Creepy crawlies scattering around the room. Booming footsteps…everything seems so real.

Audio Commentary – This commentary track is done by director Frank Darabont all by his lonesome and he may have officially gotten me to not care anymore if commentaries are done by just one person. You could not ask for more detail or even more enthusiasm then what Darabont brings. He discusses how he photographed certain elements and the details he wanted to incorporate into other scenes. It is a fantastic listen and well worth it considering you’ll want to see this film again and again.

Deleted Scenes – Here are about seven minutes worth of deleted scenes that were rightfully taken out of the film. Not that they would have added much more in length to it, but they just don’t seem like they would have fit in. Optional commentary by Darabont also explains that fact and talks about how some of the dialogue from these scenes was put in elsewhere.

Drew Struzan: An Appreciation Of An Artist – Drew Struzan is a movie poster artist that has done E.T., Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Thing, Back To The Future, and so many more including The Mist. This feature is only seven and a half minutes one but showcases the works of one of the truly great unknown artists.

Behind-The-Scenes Webisodes – These three features are short behind the scenes segments that last a little over ten minutes total and show some simple footage backstage and off camera. It’s kind of like a director’s diary and nothing much more.

Frank Darabont Introduces The Mist In Black & White – Darabont gives a three minute introduction to “The Director’s Vision” version of The Mist. He goes on to explain that he wanted the film to originally appear in black & white, but it just wasn’t something he could get others to agree on. Darabont continues on about how the younger generation today may not like it because black & white doesn’t seem real, but that’s exactly the point. It isn’t real. It’s a movie.

The Director’s Vision: The Complete Film In Black & White – As much as I loved the film when I saw it for the first time in theatres, I’ll go on record here as saying that this is the only way it should ever be viewed. Seeing The Mist in black & white makes it at least one hundred times creepier then it appears when in color. The void of color just gives an overall sense of dread and fear that wouldn’t come from seeing Nosferatu in color for example. Even though the beauty of the creatures couldn’t have been done without today’s technology; getting rid of the color made me feel as though I was watching a film shot directly in the sixties. This is the way Darabont wanted the film to be, and this is the true way it can be appreciated to its full extent.

When Darkness Came: The Making Of The Mist – This featurette runs close to forty minutes and is rather basic at times with the behind the scenes’ shots and other stuff like that, but includes much more. Darabont and Stephen King himself talk a lot about how they wanted the film to come about when all was said and done, and that they were very proud of the finished product. A very interesting watch.

Taming The Beast: The Making Of Scene 35 – Scene 35 is the scene when everything finally comes a chaotic climax. It is the scene in the grocery store when the giant mosquito bugs and other creatures show up for the first time and everything and anything starts going on. A lot of the crew discusses just how hard it was to shoot this ten to twelve minutes scene which ended up taking six full days to film. It is an awesome look inside the hard work that goes into shooting a film of this caliber. This feature last a little over twelve minutes.

Monsters Among Us: A Look At The Creature FX – Darabont and the creature creators talk in this twelve minutes and forty-six second feature about all the horrible monsters that appear in the film. They discuss changing formats from models and sculptures over to computer generated imagery and how they just wanted them to look as realistic as possible even though everyone knows they aren’t. But this is the beginning process of how the creatures came to life.

The Horror Of It All: The Visual FX Of The Mist – CafeFX is the team that worked behind the computer FX on Pan’s Labyrinth and were now brought in by Darabont for The Mist. This is a really cool feature showing how much computer generated imagery actually went into this film from not just the creatures and daylight, but many forget that the mist itself needed to be created perfectly. It is absolutely amazing at what they can do. Be sure to check out the scene in the supermarket when Darabont is narrating it from beginning to middle to final cut. It is so extremely awesome.

Trailer Gallery – This gallery is actually all three trailers for The Mist, each showing a little different footage in each.

You know I really thought that nothing else could make The Mist better then it was back in November when it arrived in theatres, but I was wrong. It was even better the second time around and made even greater in black & white. The film is just perfection when looking at it from an enjoyment and horror standpoint. It instills fear in ways that some have never known and maybe never will. The Mist shows people that sometimes the unknown may bring people together, but it’s only a matter of time before they themselves are torn apart. There’s no reason to even think about which version of the DVD to get either because you simply shouldn’t be without the black & white version of it. Get this two-disc set or you’ll be kicking yourself for it later when you get to your friend’s house and see he has it. The rest of the special features add even so much more making this one of the best put together DVD sets that I’ve seen in a long time.

My good friend and editor Travis Leamons said something really interesting to me after he got his copy of The Mist. He said, “if all Frank Darabont did was Stephen King adaptations for the rest of his life, I wouldn’t complain one bit.” I can see why he said that. The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Woman In The Room, and now The Mist. Most of you may have only seen two or three of those four, but I assure you that they are all masterpieces with each one getting better then the last. I agree and say that Mr. Darabont and Mr. King are a match made in Heaven…or hell if that seems more appropriate.

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Genius Products presents Stephen King’s The Mist: Two-Disc Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Frank Darabont. Starring: Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, William Sadler, Toby Jones, Nathan Gamble. Written by: Frank Darabont & Stephen King. Running time: 126 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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