Red Mist

Red Mist


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Everybody is fascinated by coma. It's a liminal state, the closest we can come to being dead whilst still remaining a part of people's lives, a part of the narrative. As somebody who's actually been in a coma, I can tell you that it's not really very exciting - I didn't have visions, I didn't gain psychic powers, I couldn't fly - but one wouldn't know that to see it in the movies. Red Mist follows in a long tradition of films which associate coma with the creepiness of the unknown - when the ego is displaced, out come the monsters from the id.

Drawing most strongly on the Ozploitation classic Patrick, though sans the cheap and cheerful look that made that work, Red Mist is about a coma patient with a grudge. When he was up and about, Kenneth was a nervous, socially awkward guy. A bit of a voyeur, a bit of a stalker, but essentially harmless. Certainly he wasn't as unpleasant a character as the medical students who bullied him and plied him with drugs until he had an epileptic seizure, then failed to call and ambulance because they didn't want to get in trouble. Sure, one of them felt bad about it later, enough so that she decided to pump him full of experimental drugs - but that's how he developed the ability to possess other people and wreak his bloody revenge.

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So far, so good. All the basic ingredients of a good old fashioned slasher film are in place, and the film delivers a fair helping of gore. But the problem is that, beyond simple voyeurism (which we've just been told to despise), there's really no reason to care. There isn't a single likeable character in this film. We're no doubt supposed to root for Catherin (Arielle Kebbel) as she wrestles with her conscience, but this is undermined by the confused moral message of the film (something horror like this is usually very clear on). First we're supposed to hate Kenneth because he's creepy; then we're supposed to care about him because he's ill; then we're supposed to want him dead because he's, well, getting his revenge on people who were happy enough to leave him for dead. It doesn't work unless we identify completely with a heroine who is entirely self-centered, which is uncomfortable to say the least.

Besides being obnoxious, the kids getting slaughtered in this film are largely interchangeable. Even the usually excellent Martin Compston fails to distinguish himself. They're glossy and good looking to the point of being totally bland, and there are an awful lot of them, which sometimes makes it hard to keep track. A smaller cast might have permitted more character development and made things a lot more interesting, as at any given moment we don't know which of them might be possessed and a threat to the others.

If you're a big fan of slasher type films, this is passable enough, and one doesn't get the impression that the filmmakers intended it to be taken completely seriously. But director Paddy Breathnach is always talking up the artistic potential of the genre, so it would be nice to see him try a little harder in contributing to it.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2009
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A coma victim with psychic powers hunts down the medical students who tormented him.
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Director: Paddy Breathnach

Writer: Spence Wright

Starring: Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Carter, Stephen Dillane, Andrew Lee Potts, Alex Wyndham, Katie McGrath, Christina Chong, Martin Compston, Michael Jibson, MyAnna Buring

Year: 2008

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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