Plot: What’s it about?
A small town in Maine has just suffered through an intense storm, which has left numerous residents with damage to their homes and other property. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is one such local, but he isn’t worried about the damage as much as getting stocked up in case of a second storm session. When he arrives at the store with his young son, he finds a lot of other locals there as well, looking to stock up themselves. As the shoppers scan the shelves as normal, someone runs inside and screams about a strange mist headed toward the area. At first the claim is laughed off, but then just as was promised, a mysterious mist soon rolls in and surrounds the store. Those inside begin to discuss the mist and what it could be, but no one seems to know and few people want to venture in to find out. What has caused this mist to appear and what has happened within it, and will anyone inside the store be able to uncover the truth?
As we all know, the horror writings of Stephen King haven’t often translated into good movies, but would his short story The Mist be able to overcome the odds. As directed by Frank Darabont, The Mist is a throwback to 1950s monster movies, but not as innocent or passive. No, the creatures in The Mist are not misunderstood or scared, these are vicious beasts who feast upon humans and leave behind a wake of blood and death. At the same time, The Mist isn’t about the monsters outside, instead it focuses on the darker sides of ourselves. I don’t want to imply that this is a deep, intelligent thriller, as it isn’t, but it does do more than throw some monsters on screen with buckets of blood. The Mist is solid, not great, but solid. The performances come off as weak at times and the special effects are simply atrocious. But the atmosphere is effective and while the conclusion is forced nihilism, at least it breaks from the usual genre cliches. This Blu-ray release offers both the color and black & white versions, plus all of the extras, so if you’re going to see The Mist, this is the best way to do so.
Video: How does it look?
The Mist is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This turns out to be an average transfer at best, one that is decent, but never stands out. I found detail to be solid, with a noticeable improvement over the DVD, but the depth still isn’t on par with the upper tier Blu-rays out there. Also on the downside are inconsistent flesh tones, unwanted grain, and troublesome contrast. all of which keep this transfer down. The colors look passable, but not as bright or bold as we’d like. In short, this looks better than the DVD, but not up to expectations for a high definition release.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie is driven by atmosphere, so the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option had to be top shelf. As it turns out, it is just that and delivers just the kind of audio experience the movie demands. The eerie texture flows from the surrounds and really helps add tension, which is invaluable here. The quiet moments are even impressive, not to mention when the pace quickens and the soundtrack pours on more presence. The musical score is effective also, while dialogue is clear and never an issue. This release also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, a French language track, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Frank Darabont provides his director’s comments, in a session that walks us through the entire process, from the director’s love of the short story to the casting to production and beyond. Darabont is a great speaker and shares a lot of personal insights into the project, as well as the more technical information. When Darkness Came is a thirty-eight minute look inside the shoot, which proves to be worthwhile and has minimal fluff. Not the most in depth piece around and there is some repeated information from the commentary, but still a solid featurette. This release also includes four additional featurettes, some deleted scenes, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers. The second disc houses the much talked about black & white version of The Mist, an interesting addition that is well worth a look for fans.