In The Electric Mist - Blu-ray Review

'the only pleasure to be had is to try and guess which one of the many under-developed side characters is secretly an evil murderer'

How some films end up populating the direct-to-DVD market is often a complete mystery. In The Electric Mist for example, officially arrived to prop up your local bargain bin last month, yet boasts a leading trio of Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman and Peter Sarsgaard supported by a similarly decent trio of character actors in Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen and Ned Beatty. With Jones playing a cop and Goodman a small town mob boss, you'd be forgiven for wondering how this became anything other than a solid thriller which turned over small but respectable numbers and then enjoyed a long life on the DVD shelf. Of course, if you are wondering that, then chances are you haven't been made to sit through the film.

Taking a time and patience to craft Louisiana as a veritable character, Mist becomes vastly similar to another sultry southern film in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Both share a delight in tackling the south as a place where mystical, slightly occult and transcendent things might happen and their daring in attempting these things should be applauded. Unfortunately though, like Midnight, Mist suffers from confused direction, choppy editing and a plot which flatters to deceive and eventually deteriorates into the kind of 'mystery' thriller where the only pleasure to be had is to try and guess which one of the many under-developed side characters is secretly an evil murderer.

Mist puts plenty of suspects forwards, a facet which although vital to you retaining any interest in the film, equally hampers your enjoyment of it. It's difficult to know whether we should be interested in Sarsgaard's perma-drunk actor for example, or whether Justina Machado's FBI agent is there to do anything apart from fill in the plot gaps or whether Pruitt Taylor Vince's detective is as one dimensional as his acting. The plot is cluttered with such distractions and Bertrand Tavernier's direction, which fails to give us any visual hints about how excited we should be getting about any one particular character, confuses to the point of annoyance.

In the foreground there's some typically rugged, but eminently decent, work from Smith as a recovering alcoholic who holds hallucinatory conversations with a civil war general in his spare time. With a bit more stable support, this facet alone might have been able to save the film from obscurity and mediocrity but with Tavernier's structure, this becomes impossible. Another potential southern belle which unfortunately becomes lost in the bayou.

Look further...

'Even the main plot itself turns out to be mostly a loss, largely forgotten by the time we wrap things up in the end' (Christopher Null), 2/5

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