Film Review: The Fog

The Fog
The Fog

I�’ll be the first to admit that for years I would vigorously protest all news of any of my favorite films being recycled and remanufactured into an updated version for the Pepsi generation. How dare those slugs in Hollywood attempt to remake something that I held so near and dear to my dark little heart. �Where have all the creative people gone?� would often fill my woeful outcries along with many unsavory superlatives. But who do you think would be the first person in line to see films like Gus Van Sant�s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho or the most recent Amityville Horror? Yeah, you guessed it, the guy next door. Actually, it was your beloved Caretaker.

Call me a hypocrite, but hell I am a horror fan for god sake, and being able to enjoy a genre film in the theater isn�t always an easy thing to do in this world of direct to video BS. It wasn�t until I took a step back and really examined the history of horror that I realized that some of my favorite films were in fact recycled and remanufacture for me. Films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), John Carpenter�s The Thing (1981), Night of the Living Dead 90, and the most recent Dawn of the Dead (2004) all hold a special place in my personal DVD library.

Sometimes, Hollywood can get it right and bring some unique twist to a tried and true formula. Let’s face it, horror films have and will always be remade. In no way am I telling you not to be passionate about the way you feel about horror, but be a fan to yourself and the genre we all love, and don�t write off a film merely because it has been done before because you might just miss out on a memorable experience. Well, time to get off my soapbox and into the review.

When I first heard they were remaking one of my favorite John Carpenter’s film The Fog, I was a little intrigued. The original is such a well-crafted ghost story that works on almost every level. What could director Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata) bring to this new production? Would it be a remake for the sake of retelling the story with the latest Hollywood eye candy or would he add some new twist to the story to make it interesting and worth my trip to the theater?

The story begins with a cutter ship making its way through a damp and fog-filled night towards some unknown destination. Flashes of fire can be seen spewing forth from her bowel as four men escape carrying a dark secret. Fast forward to modern-day Antonio Bay, where the townsfolk are about to dedicate a statue to their founding fathers. Life seems simple on the island, but in the darkness lurks the fog waiting for a chance to reclaim what is right it’s own and with it unleash its vengeful wrath.

All in all, the storyline is dead on with the original classic, but a few minor updates have been added in an attempt to spice up the films. Most of these are completely unnecessary, such as the opening sequence, and at times they seem to hinder the pacing of the film, but a few do work. I did like seeing a little more of the background story, but in some ways, it kind took away from the mystery of those lurking in the darkness. One update that I particularly liked was the ending. Most people don’t seem to appreciate or understand the ending, but in my humble opinion, it accents the plight of the lost souls from the Elizabeth Dane. All I can say is that treasure isn’t always forged from silver and gold.

The acting in this film was average at best, but what can you expect from a film cast for a PG-13 crowd. Now, I have seen a whole lot worst and I can definitely live with the outcome here, but I really missed seeing a more mature Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau). I was surprised by Maggie Grace’s (Elizabeth) performance since I am not the biggest Shannon Rutherford fan on the TV Series Lost and Adrian Hough outshined the rest as a drunken and remorseful Father Malone. Unfortunately, since these films are being made for a younger generation, we are going to have to live with the beautiful and unrealistic characters that dot this landscape. Where have all the Larry Zerners (Shelly in Friday the 13, Part III) of the world gone?

In the original film, Rob Bottin did an amazing job with the little budget he was given for effects. Due to these limitations, the simplicity of his work added to the overall atmosphere of Carpenter�s vision. The effects budget on the remake was probably bigger than the entire budget for the original film. At points in the films, the added effects work, but for the most part, I felt like I was a passenger on Disneyland�s Haunted Mansion ride. Overall, gives me simple effects performed by real people any day.

When I went to see this film I went in with extremely low expectations since I am such a huge fan of Carpenter�s original and I have to admit that I was mildly surprised. You may be asking yourself, isn�t the above review a rip on the film and I would have to disagree because with all its shortcomings this film worked for me as an hour and half of mindless entertainment. Also, being able to give up on all my previous remake frustrations, I was able to separate my experience (as much as I could) from the original film and look at The Fog (2005) as a standalone piece. Was it the best horror film of the year? No way, that honor probably goes to High Tension (Haute Tension) at this point and it was far from the worst (Boogeyman). Finally, I would only recommend this film to those who can deal with the never-ending world of horror remakes, because it is a fact that we will all have to deal with sometime.

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