I haven’t seen John Carpenter’s 1980 original, but Rupert Wainwright’s remake is certainly nothing to get excited about. The Fog fails on just about all levels, most importantly being scary: something kind of important for a horror film.
The main problem is simple. There is an ‘entity’ in all horror films – the thing that perpetrates the scary bits, whether a masked killer (Scream), ghosts (The Sixth Sense) or a creature (anything from The Birds to The Cave). There are certain rules that come into play with the entity, whether they be an evil that attacks you in your dreams (Freddy Krueger), or can only appear in the dark (vampires), or simply that they are human and thus generally bound by the laws of physics. Once we know the rules, the filmmakers can play around with them, putting our heroes again and again in the thick of it. And, being heroes, they will usually find a way out of the situation. This doesn’t apply to The Fog. First of all, the entity is obviously insubstantial, but then again it’s sometimes solid, and sometimes ghostly – we simply cannot tie this evil down. It can sometimes affect inanimate objects, sometimes can fly about at will, and other times it will walk around in humanoid form. How do they escape it? What rules is it governed by? None, as far as I could tell.
More importantly, its violence seems to be indiscriminate. People die and people survive in a fairly arbitrary manner. The heroes run about, a couple get knocked off, and that’s about it. There’s a complete lack of cause and effect.
The second rule of horror films is that they are actually about something else. Scream is about a teenage girl getting over the rape and brutal murder of her mother, and being comfortable with her own sexuality. The Amityville Horror was about a family learning to accept a new father figure into their unit. The horror is then implanted on the top of this, so that we have some real world anxieties off which to play it (much like the ‘Buffy’ TV series premise). In The Fog there are some great beginnings of subplots, but they soon fizzle away. I was particularly interested in the suggestion of a love triangle between the three leads, and one early scene hinted at some fairly complex (or at least interesting) relationships between the main players, but as soon as the fog hit, we heard nothing more.
Tom Welling is fine in a boring, hunky kind of way (he takes off his top), and Maggie Grace is similarly adequate in a sexy kind of way (she walks around in her undies), but nothing more. The only hope I had was for Selma Blair (Pretty Persuasion), who gets the final acting credit as the only recognisable big screen name, and even she has nothing to work with.
The Fog isn’t scary, just noisy. Every couple of minutes we’ll hear a crash or a thud that may shock us, but not in any clever or original way. The frights were all left up to the foley people. The special effects are decent, but I have a feeling that it’s pretty easy to animate fog, and whenever it changes to physical effects, it looks rather like smoke.
There’s a couple of cool period flashbacks, but overall this movie pissed me off. The Fog failed not only as a scary movie, but as a piece of entertainment. In a word, dull.Rating: