Paddy Breathnach’s previous horror effort, Shrooms was a banal if intriguing piece of film making.
Despite being an overwhelmingly middling experience it did, in some areas, show signs of great potential and featured moments of fleeting, mild originality.
The effect of Red Mist is largely the same except that the concept is -somehow- even more ludicrous, the tone is -for some unknown reason- far more serious and the originality is kept firmly under wraps.
Tell me if this selection of colourful characters rings any bells: The Goth, The Douche Bag, The Creepy Maguffin, The Pretty Boy, The Slut, The Jock, The Vacant First to Die and The Virginal Good Girl.
Yep, it’s the usual roster of slasher horror clichés and in Red Mist they are all present and accounted for. Their character motivations are fairly simple and play out as follows ‘Don’t let that creepy yet misunderstood janitor (Freakdog) tell anyone that we’ve been taking drugs from the hospital’s pharmacy or we’ll be kicked out of medical school! What’s the logical thing to do in this situation?…I know! Let’s drug him and send him into a coma! That seems reasonable.’
From here the apparently ‘likeable’ lead protagonist, Catherine tries to resuscitate Freakdog due to her unbearable guilt. She chooses to do this by pumping him full of experimental drugs that inadvertently give him the power to posses people and subsequently, murder the dumbfounded students in various grotesque and violent ways…whoops.
Freakdog is set up as a character with a disturbing past.
As a child he watches as his prostitute mother is beaten by an unruly customer. What this leads to (apparently) is that Freakdog loves to film people whilst self harming… which makes perfect psychological sense right?
This leads us to another problem. Camera phones are not cinematic and they never will be.
Watching our antagonist self harm whilst filming a naked corpse on a Samsung P20 Ultra Whatever was never going to be interesting visually or thematically.
During the club sequence in which the village idiots send Freakdog into a coma, one of them screams “People can come out of Comas right?!” …You’re a f*****g medical student! Why are you asking these questions!?…Actually I’m being kind of unfair, it is implied that this character is not in the same profession as the others, but, the fact remains that his five best friends are all medical students, you’d think that some of their impeccable knowledge of medicine would rub off on him, right? Oh wait, I forgot, they are all monumentally dim!
Towards the beginning of the third act, Catherine is predictably possessed by the aforementioned, Freakdog. The screen goes blank and we hear a blood curdling scream. When the negative space is refilled we are treated to an image of a bloodied up, half naked Catherine emerging from a body bag unaware of where she has been and what she has done.
This is where the movie should have begun. It makes sense narratively to begin the film with a character that knows as little as the audience does and then to work towards completing the puzzle as the bloody events unfold. Breathnach missed a trick here as the last third of the movie is significantly more entertaining than the badly paced, plotted and scripted first two.
Red Mist is, ultimately, a frustrating film. When one reads an interview with Breathnach what becomes very apparent is how intelligent, articulate and forwarding thinking he is. However, what comes across on screen doesn’t even come close to representing his vision and instead leaves a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth.
I can’t help but think that for all of this film’s sin, a lot could be forgiven if it was at least fun…but it’s not even that.
Additional film information: Freakdog (2008)