Directed by: Rupert Wainwright
Written by: Cooper Layne
Starring: Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, Selma Blair & Adrian Hough
Reviewed by: Brett H.
ďBlood for blood!Ē
Something mighty positive is to be said about simplicity in horror films. You donít necessarily need a million plot twists or intricate characters. What you really need is a damn good idea and even better execution. John Carpenterís Halloween proved this in spades, and the Rob Zombie 2007 version decided to dive deeper into the Myers character, but ended up kicking itself in the ass because of it. If Michael Myers is evil in the flesh, does it really matter that he came from an abused home? It would be one thing if he was your average crazy and he reacted because of this, but the portrayal wasnít that simple. Instead, Zombie insisted upon going the extra mile to nowhere. But, if you think people hated Zombieís Halloween, you havenít seen the fury in which people young and old shake their fists at when it comes to an earlier remake of the misty mayhem Carpenter gem known as The Fog. In the original, simplicity was again the key and in the remake, they had to go and fuck that all up.
Antonio Island is celebrating the anniversary of their town by honouring its founding fathers with statues in the city. The ties run deep in this fishing town as the blood that ran through their veins still exists in the youth of the town. Stevie Wayne (Selma Blair) is the townís alternative DJ who keeps all the fishermen and townsfolk updated on weather conditions. She also has a thing for the sexy piece of meat, Nick Castle (Tom Welling). Nick seems like a pretty wholesome guy, but he is a sucker for temptations of the flesh, unbeknownst to his cute girlfriend, Elizabeth (Maggie Grace), who is out of the city. One night when heading up to the radio station in his pick-up to give Stevie a ride (I donít mean home), he comes across a hot hitchhiking girl. Stevie who?
It turns out that the hitchhiker is actually Elizabeth, who has come back from New York to see him and her mother because she has been having horrible nightmares about drowning and a lot of lives being lost in a burning ship. Stevie remains at the radio station where a co-worker with a crush calls her to update her on weather conditions and a mighty patch of fog thatís working its way against the wind and straight to Antonio Island. This vaporous horde isnít your average fog Ė inside it contains ghosts from the townís past who are returning for revenge. In 1871, Antonio Island mysteriously sprouted up into a lively place to liveÖ at the expense of a band of lepers who were brutally slaughtered and robbed of all their money. The Fog has already torn through one ship and left the party animals in it deadÖ and now itís reaching shore and searching for a link to the past.
The Fog remake sounds like the original, but believe me, itís not; and Iíve never been one to hold the original film against a remake. Essentially what happens is this film showcases the awesome premise of the original, which demonstrates the parts of the film that work, and invents some things on its own, which demonstrates the parts that don't. It boggles the mind why the filmmakers and scriptwriters decided to take a simple story, fathom it into something smarter, then totally annihilate its ďsmarterĒ self with pitfalls of irrationality. The original Fog worked because of atmosphere, and the main problem with the remake is it just doesnít have any when the pace picks up. I suppose if there ever was a film that truly exemplified why people dislike remakes and how different the audiences of today are than those of yesterday, it would be with this flick. Or, at least how the filmmakers interpret the audience, because quite frankly, I donít know any modern fans that truly like this film, either.
The most promising elements the remake has to offer are amazing sets and quality direction. The Fog still looks huge and menacing in its approach to Antonio Island (not Bay, this time out), but the main quarrel I have with the film is that snarling CGI ghosts are rarely scary. If I ever come back from the dead to get murderous revenge, rest assured, I wonít take a few seconds to look fierce before I do my deed. The key is to make ghosts diffuse fear into the viewer so they donít have to go out of their way and make themselves look like assholes. Obvious CGI fumes of fog sneaking into a car arenít scary either. A lot of the kills are interesting conceptually, but the problem of awkward CGI rears its ugly head. The soul of a film like this is the aspect of revenge, and it saddens me to see ghosts being made up to look like transparent beings from beyond rather than the cooler, more tangible threat of the original. This isnít a comparison so much as when the goal of transparent phantoms is to create a body count, things really begin to get silly. When a clear ghost makes an audible bang on a door with his clear caneÖ something just doesnít add up. Itís hard not to groan when the hottest girl youíve basically ever laid eyes on turns up hitchhiking on a road and ends up in her boyfriendís truck.
Itís not just these; the film is fundamentally dumb. Some plot was changed to make the film more logical and, dare I say that word again, smart, but in the end everything just shows the viewer that they think weíre stupid. The film looks awesome, has some creativity with deaths, has relatively sick looking lepers, yet births a giant black hole in the center sucking all that is good out of its surroundings. The ending is particularly mind-numbing with absurdity and the flashbacks that lead up to it essentially sell the film out too early. Any half-minded viewer that can put two and two together will figure out in a roundabout way what the ending will entail. Even worse yet is the fact that had it not have given away everything that could have eventually given the film substance until the end, it could have packed more punch. The ending could have worked, or at least been more interesting and relevant, but in the end, errors in execution eradicated this possibility. The characters are pretty much staple, but Maggie Grace does an admirable job with her portrayal of Elizabeth.
Are there ways of stopping The Fog? Well, a boy tapes up the cracks in his door airtight so they canít get in. That sounds cool enough, right? It makes no sense why the ghosts didnít just go in and get him, though; they have the strength to throw a man through a building, surely they could flick a pebble clear through some tape. I could go on forever with little miscues, but in the end, it all reverts back to the same thing. The film required atmosphere and proper execution to be a success, and it just doesnít have it. The cinematography is explosive and the fog still generally looks menacing, but itís just not intense. Sonyís unrated (ha!) DVD features a clear and pounding 5.1 track with a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that looks and sounds fantastic, there are absolutely no problems technically. The disc also contains a commentary, deleted scenes and remaking, special effects & making-of featurettes. In the remaking featurette, the director questions the goal of the lepers in the original Fog and says that there had to be something more than what they were after. That comment speaks volumes about why Antonio Island is no Antonio Bay. The flick is PG-13, and only people of that demographic will find it anything but mediocre, or worse. Rent it!
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