A few years back I caught a British horror flick that offered a pretty basic tale, with just a few interesting new touches. It was called Shrooms, and in many ways it's a prototypical "kids wander into the forest and regret it" story. Something you've seen more than enough times by now, but director Paddy Breathnatch was able to bring a few fresh wrinkles (and a decidedly slick visual approach) to a rather familiar campfire tale. So when I learned that the director's second flick, previously known as Freakdog but recently re-titled to Red Mist, was now available, I made sure to give it a good spin. Unfortunately, if Shrooms was a basic slasher movie with a few cool touches, then Red Mist is a glorified made-for-TV movie ... with a few cool touches.
More specifically, the flick seems like an obvious (if unofficial) remake of the 1979 Australian chiller Patrick, which is about a comatose villain who can commit truly heinous acts using only his diseased BRAIN! That's pretty much the long and the short of Red Mist: A bunch of smug young doctors mock one of their uncool colleagues, and eventually the poor stooge has an accident and ends up as a vegetable. Aside from the one "good girl" who feels pretty rotten about the whole situation, most of the other young doctors are royal jerks, willing to do anything to protect their privileged medical futures.
And you know precisely where the flick is going from this point. Poor comatose "Freakdog" wreaks his hellaciously telekinetic revenge on the rotten bastards who done him wrong, and it's up to the "good girl with a conscience" to, well, to explain everything to the authorities. Needless to say, nobody believes her, and she promptly becomes the prime suspect on all the killings. It's at right about this point that a cleverer horror flick would then throw a monkey wrench into the equation, but unfortunately Red Mist never aspires to anything beyond 'mildly interesting' and 'occasionally nasty.' Mr. Breathnatch, still a director worth watching if you ask me, feels overly beholden to the flat and predictable screenplay. It's Spence Wright's first produced script, so let's give the kid the benefit of the doubt a little, but the longer Red Mist goes on, the easier you'll be able to predict the very next scene.
As a horror flick, it's passable at best. The hospital setting provides for an adequately unsettling location, and a few of the more creative dispatches are pretty solid. But there's only so many times we can watch a comatose freak squeeze his bed sheets in fury before we start to get a little bored. Fans of comely young lasses will of course appreciate the contributions of Arielle Kebbel and Sarah Carter (and indeed the cast isn't half-bad), and the presence of an underused (but evil) doctor adds a little spice to Act III, but the simple fact is that Red Mist is well-shot, adequately written (the dialog, anyway), and completely, entirely predictable from stem to stern. Should the flick pop up on late-night cable (or hey, here on FEARnet), it's worthy of a tentative look, as Red Mist certainly isn't terrible and you could dig it a lot more than I did, But it's highly unlikely the flick will fill you with much horror-geek enthusiasm or reside within your memory banks for more than a day or two.
If you snag the DVD, though, you'll be treated to a pair of featurettes (both solid) and an interview segment with the adorable Arielle Kebbel.