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Red Mist (2008)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD Released: 2/10/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/19/2009

Do you know who deserves a check...I mean a really big check...I mean the kind of huge check that they give the winner of a golf tournament? Lois Duncan. Who's Lois Duncan? The author of I Know What You Did Last Summer. So many books and movies have ripped off that idea and she gets little credit for being the originator of that idea. (For the record, I've only seen a handful of Korean films, and three of them had the premise of her book.) The notion of a group of friends hiding a deadly secret felt original at one point, but it's become way too hackneyed. But, that didn't stop the makers of Red Mist from using it as the jumping-off point for their film.

Red Mist introduces us to a group of interns at Fort Haven Hospital. Catherine (Arielle Kebbel), Kim (Sarah Carter), Jake (Alex Wyndham), Harriet (Katie McGrath), Yoshimi (Christina Chong), Sean (Martin Compston), and Steve (Michael Jibson) are all studying under Dr. Stegman (Michael J. Reynolds). And as with most cinematic student doctors (see Pathology), they are very high-strung and have plenty of time to party. Being conceited doctors, they shun Kenneth (Andrew Lee Potts), an awkward morgue attendant who clearly has a crush on Catherine. One night, Kenneth follows the group to a bar and lets them know that he saw Sean taking drugs from the pharmacy. They decide to embrace Kenneth, hoping this will keep him from telling the authorities. They give him a high dosage of alcohol and drugs which causes Kenneth to have a seizure. Fearful of being caught, they dump him at the emergency room and later learn that he's gone into a coma. Wracked with guilt and dismayed at the news that Kenneth will be taken off of life-support, Catherine does some research and learns of an experimental drug which has been known to help coma victims. She secretly administers the drug to Kenneth and he does respond with brain-wave activity. That night, Yoshimi is murdered. Catherine gives Kenneth another dose, and another of her friends is attacked. Catherine slowly begins to realize that the drugs have given Kenneth the ability to leave his own body. How do you stop someone who isn't awake?

So, again, someone please give Mrs. Duncan her check. The movie hits all of the I Know What You Did Last Summer high-notes, from the bully who forces everyone to keep the secret to the intelligent girl who is against the idea. But, Red Mist doesn't stop there. Once this plot has been established, one has to wonder, what are they going to do with the story, as Kenneth is in a coma? Never fear, there are other movies to plunder. After some mis-guided medical tampering, which reminded me of Re-Animator, the movie turns into Patrick. "What's Patrick?", you may be asking. Patrick is an Australian film from 1978 about a coma victim who is able to use his telekinetic powers to kill. Red Mist changes this idea, but only slightly.

Unoriginal ideas aside, there isn't much else happening in Red Mist. The movie opens with an poorly edited and hopelessly vague explanation for why Kenneth is a "weirdo", and then introduces us to the interns who are all a*&holes, because isn't that how young doctors are supposed to act? The movie just assumes that we'll accept the fact that the doctors are all jerks who hate Kenneth simply because he's different and we'll all move on from there. The movie also asks us to accept the basis for the murders based on a few lines of dialogue from a doctor. Some of the murders are rather gory, and while this may interesting some viewers, these scenes don't really fit the tone of the rest of the film. The pace is sluggish at times, and the movie reaches a point where it really wants us to care if Catherine can help and then stop Kenneth, but it's difficult to muster concern...especially when everyone who Kenneth is killing is so unlikable.

I would say that the greatest insult here is that there is no "red mist" in the film. The movie's original title was "Freakdog", which is a terrible title, but it makes sense if you've seen the movie. The only appealing thing about Red Mist is Arielle Kebbel who is too good for the material here. Convoluted, unoriginal, and boring, Red Mist does not give us the best feeling about what young doctors are up to. If I want to see doctors doing stupid things, I'll stick to Scrubs.

Red Mist falls into a deep sleep on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only slight grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are good, most notably the reds. The image is a tad dark at times, as if the filmmakers were going for shadowy look and took it one step too far. I noted some mild video noise in some shots. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which is one of the muddier tracks which I've heard recently. Even with the volume turned up higher than normal, I had difficulty understanding the dialogue and was finally forced to turn on the subtitles. That aside, there are some good stereo effects, especially in the hospital corridors and the bar scene provides good surround effects.

The Red Mist DVD contains three extra features. "The Making of Red Mist" (21 minutes) is made up of clips from the film and interviews with Director Paddy Breathnach, Writer Spence Wright, and the cast, with a smattering of on-set footage. The cast discuss their characters and their involvement with the film, while Breathnach and Wright talk about the story and the making of the film. We get to hear more from the star of the film, who discusses her character and what made her choose this role in "Arielle Kebbel Extended Interview" (9 minutes). "The Red Mist Cast in Northern Ireland" (4 minutes) is a misleading title, as we don't actually get to see the cast in Northern Ireland. We are treated to travelogue footage while the actors give their views on the country.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long