Fog, The (2005)

The Fog (2005)

From The Makers Of “Halloween”

One hundred years ago off the coast of Antonio Bay, a ship full of lepers was betrayed by the town’s founding fathers and burned, killing everyone aboard. Now in the town’s centennial celebration, the ghosts of the murdered victims return to the town for revenge on the descendants and killing anyone else who stands in their path.

 

Why? Just why? I could quite easily end my review there and I’d be happy knowing that I had devoted as little time of my life as possible on one of the most wretched remakes I’ve ever seen, perhaps the worst of the bunch. Its got some tough company to beat with the likes of the Prom Night remake but I think The Fog just beats them out simply because it is somehow manages to screw up the rather generic material of the original in impossible ways. Let’s face it: John Carpenter’s original 1980′s chiller has its problems and isn’t perfect but it’s a terrific ghost story with a really creepy atmosphere and some spooky effects to boot. However it was one of few early films of his that had room for improvements (you can’t tell me Halloween could have been improved!). I mean there were plot holes, unexplained happenings for the sake of cool effects and it was overly talky during the middle stretch of the film before the fog finally rolled into town in the finale.

So why not gut everything that worked back then and replace it with superficial teenage characters and a bonanza of completely un-scary CGI effects? Well that’s what Mr Wainright and co have done with The Fog. The basic story itself is a simple one of revenge and there’s little change here from that of the original. But that’s why the story worked so well before – the simplicity of it. There weren’t dozens of plot twists, overly-developed characters (though I always thought there were a few too many holed up in the church in the finale) and a necessity to challenge the audience. It was just a ghost story, pure and simple. It had one direction that it wanted to go and went there without deviation or hesitation. But now the story is home to complicated characters and ridiculous plot twists, adding unnecessary layers to a film who’s strength was it’s shunning of these elements.

The characters that Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins both played in the original have been ‘watered’ down to generic hunky boyfriend and hot blonde girlfriend with a romantic back story just in case things weren’t complicated enough with vengeful ghosts. You won’t give a rat’s ass about them so that’s even worse news for the rest of the cast, an assortment of clichéd sidekicks, barking mad old men and sinister mayors. Now there is even a weird sub-plot about one of the main characters being a reincarnation of one of the original victims (or something….I have no idea what was going on).Tom Welling and Maggie Grace have blatantly been cast for their facial features in an attempt to appeal to the teenage market. The only ‘old hand’ on show is Selma Blair and, at 32, she’s not exactly pushing it.

As with the original, this really treads water in the middle section because the fog isn’t anywhere to be seen and there’s no sign of the ghosts. Maybe that’s a good thing though. The main scare factor from the original was, for me, the fog itself. Dry ice with a few strobe lights inside has never looked scarier. I mean when that stuff crept in, you knew there was something lurking around inside – it was just too thick to see through. Although you never got a proper look at the undead sailors in the original, they were still simply guys with a bit of make-up on and they sported some kick ass weapons (I’ll never forget the brutal assault on the three guys in the boat at the beginning of the original). But what do we get here? CGI fog for the most which has zero effect, considering you can tell a lot of the work is clearly blue screen. It’s too gimmicky, moving around into numerous shapes and sizes but without any sort of creeping menace. The ghosts are mainly CGI spooks too which fly freely in the air and have no real menace to them. Without a ‘physical’ presence in the film to commit their dastardly acts, you never once get the sense that these are scares spectres.

Though John Carpenter was on board as a co-producer, it’s clear that he had little to no input in the final product (or at least I hope he didn’t!). One of the overwhelming issues with The Fog is purely its lack of any sort of ghostly atmosphere. There’s no impending sense of doom, no form of slow-burn suspense and the ‘scares’ are so in your face, they’re telegraphed a few minutes in advance. This is about as manufactured a horror film as they go nowadays – all CGI style without the substance.

 

I’m the first to admit that some of the recent remakes have been pretty good updates: Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes and even the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (c’mon it wasn’t that bad). However this is not going to be joining the crew. I’ve seen scarier steam clouds coming from boiling kettles than the fog here. The Fog is one of the worst remakes of all time and something that should have been sunk with the lepers who came back for revenge.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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