Red Mist (2008)

Red Mist (a.k.a Freakdog) sees a group of arrogant medical students inadvertently land the lonely, socially awkward Hospital caretaker in a coma after forcing him to imbibe a cocktail of drink and drugs at a party. Fraught with worry over the damage it could do to their fledgling careers, they dump him at the Hospital and leave. When Catherine (Arielle Kebbel), one of the more conscientious students amongst them takes pity on him and administers an experimental mixture of drugs in an effort to save his life, he begins suffering from bizarre out-of-body experiences that lead to him taking his revenge on the group in increasingly violent ways.

Despite a relatively strong story and a cast of well-rounded, if a tad dull, characters, Red Mist left me in a state of odd déjà vu. I’ve seen a number of hospital-set horror films and Red Mist is amongst the best of recent memory but the whole thing seemed curiously familiar. Taking the better parts of both 1990’s Flatliners and 2008’s Pathology and giving them a uniquely murderous spin actually works quite effectively though and some of the scenes are genuinely quite disturbing. The scene in which our sympathetic protagonist Catherine wakes up in the middle of the woods dirty, bloody and in a sealed body-bag and nothing but her underwear will undoubtedly make your skin crawl.

The acting is credible and the cast of largely UK-based actors cope quite well with their American accents. The most frustrating part of that however, is that the action could have taken place anywhere and so moving it to the States seems an understandable but pointless move to cash in on a bigger potential audience. Kebbel holds the movie together adeptly and flexes her ‘serious’ acting muscles well, but she is literally the only character worth rooting for. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be praying for the imminent deaths of the, largely obnoxious bunch of peripheral characters to come sooner than they do. That isn’t necessarily a major flaw, for when the deaths do occur, they are hugely gratifying, although I’m not sure scriptwriter Spence Wright ever intended his audience to side with the villain of the piece.

The cinematography is pretty bleak throughout but works very well within the context. The juxtaposition between the white-washed scenes at the start of the film with the darker, dingier shots as the movie progresses are excellent and work well as a not-so-subtle metaphor for what’s occurring on the screen.

Red Mist is a competent horror film but unfortunately the scares are infrequent and, although the gore effects are admirably achieved, there aren’t enough of them, despite one or two imaginative deaths. Everything is in place for a good, solid, thoughtful horror piece; the writing is good, the direction is nice, the acting is decent and the action unfolds at a satisfying pace but sadly, when all the components are added up, they somehow lack the magic to be truly memorable. Regardless, Red Mist is an interesting watch and very much worthy of your time.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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