Straight-up horror gets intermingled with the supernatural in Red Mist, a stylishly lensed straight-to-video shocker that delivers some decently imaginative thrill-kills. No great points for narrative invention or depth of performance, but hardcore genre fans will more or less be able to get on board with this flick.
Set at Forthaven Hospital, a teaching institution where the hard-partying medical interns are apparently boning up on their self-obsessed navel-gaving, indiscriminate sexual canoodling and general indifference so that they might graduate to glossier, Grey’s Anatomy-type shenanigans, Red Mist takes as its quietly dangerous protagonist a loner janitor, Kenneth (Andrew Lee Potts), whose life at the hospital consists of a series of endless torments from said ambitious, snooty medical students. When their latest stunt goes too far, Kenneth ends up in a coma, and practically brain dead.
Determined to save his life, guilt-ridden Catherine (Arielle Kebbel, most recently of The Uninvited) administers a powerful and
untested cocktail of drugs to the coma victim. Rather than cure Kenneth,
however, it triggers a powerful out-of-body experience and enables him to temporarily inhabit other people’s bodies and, through them,
take revenge on those responsible for his vegetative state. (At this point, cue R.E.M.’s “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” for alternate soundtrack play-along-at-home amusement.) As her colleagues are savagely picked off in one-by-one fashion, Catherine soon
realizes that what started as a medical miracle has now transformed into a
medical monstrosity. She’s forced to confront a comatose killer who
moves in and out of bodies at will, getting ever closer to her as his
supernatural powers increase.
Penned by Spencer Wright and directed by Paddy Breathnach (Blow Dry, I Went Down), Red Mist is a moderately engaging horror flick that scores points in the execution of its gruesome dispatches. The body-swap and foreign-control element gives the movie most of its dramatic juice — as in Mirrors, Kenneth can essentially force people to harm themselves — even if the actual set-up of said conceit is a bit eye-rollingly familiar, and over-the-top. (Could self-centered students fast-tracked for success really be bothered to engage in high school-level bullying in the first place?) Breathnach is forced by the story to set his proceedings in some relatively drab locations, but he injects energy and color where he can, with strobe effects and other devices. General audiences may more or less yawn, but hardcore genre fans will dig some of the blood-letting on display here.
Housed in a regular Amray plastic case in turn stored in a cardboard slipcover with the above, nicely impressionistic cover art, Red Mist comes to DVD via Anchor Bay, and is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with solid black levels and a barely detectable trace of edge compression in solid colors. An English language 5.1 Dolby surround sound audio track anchors the aural presentation, and there are also optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired. The DVD’s special features consist of three different featurettes. The first is an extended interview with Kebbel, who’s certainly easy on the eyes, but offers no great insights about her character or the material. There’s also a 21-minute making-of featurette, rife with behind-the-scenes and on-set footage, that comes across as a bit muddled; it’s partly a music video-type tone piece, meant to broadly convey the impression of actually shooting the movie, and partly a collection of EPK-style chats with various on-screen and off-screen players. A four-minute chat with other cast members on location in Northern Ireland and previews for other Anchor Bay releases round out this affair. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C+ (Movie) B- (Disc)