When news of a remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog first hit, I was surprisingly accepting of the announcement, probably because, as much as I personally love the original film, I was also well aware of its shortcomings. I was also somewhat contented by the fact that the late Debra Hill and Carpenter, himself, would be playing a part in the “re-imagining” of the film, with Carpenter serving as an on-set consultant.
I mean, hell, how bad could it be?
Well, it turned out to be pretty gosh-darned bad, folks. So bad that I actually walked out of the theater a little more than halfway into the film, and immediately came home and aired my grievances right here.
Regular visitors to Horrorview may have noticed that I often soften up on films that I initially didn’t enjoy in the theater when I finally get to see them in the comfort of my own home. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I don’t have to go through the hassle of going to the mall, waiting in line, spending thirty bucks on tickets, soda, and popcorn, only to find myself seated behind a crew of giggling faux-goth kids with Edward Scissorhands haircuts teased up so high that it feels as though I’m viewing the film from behind a jaggedly groomed hedge. Then again, maybe I’m just easier to please when I’ve got access to nicotine, a fully stocked liquor cabinet, and the power and security of a remote control in my hand.
In the case of The Fog, however, I just found even more things to hate.
The original film had such a basic premise that one would think that remaking it would be a pretty turnkey operation. It’s a simple story in which a town is besieged by ghosts of its past on the anniversary of the events that pissed off said ghosts in the first place. Throw in some fog, a few shadowy beasties, give us a couple of solid scares, and everyone goes home happy, no? Hell, Carpenter did all that with a million bucks, a B-movie cast, and a crappy smoke machine. What could a director do now, with affordable CGI, a cast of young up-and-coming actors, and a nearly twenty times the budget?
Well, if you’re Rupert Wainwright, you make one of the most insipid piles of pre-teen friendly rubbish I’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting through (three times, as I walked out the first time, and fell asleep the second). Seriously, I’ve seen more frightening episodes of Scooby-Doo, and, come to think of it, those cartoons were better written, too.
In this Fog, Nick Castle (Welling), Stevie Wayne (Blair), and Elizabeth (Grace) are all direct descendents of three of the four founding fathers of Antonio Island. On the 100th anniversary of the town, built from the coffers of an enigmatic leper and his followers who were killed by the founding foursome aboard their ship, the Elizabeth Dane, the angry spirits return to claim what is rightfully theirs. They go about doing this by killing a handful of peripheral characters, making a bunch of cars explode, and somehow managing the feat of causing the word “DANE” to flash on computer screens (apparently these ghosts are also highly skilled hackers). Later, as terrified islanders flee in all directions, our band of “heroes” converges at the town hall to face off against the ghostly galleon’s occupants…sort of. This is then followed by a conclusion that had me torn between laughing out loud and throwing an ashtray through my television screen.
I really can’t even begin to describe how much I hated The Fog. This is a movie that just boggles the mind as it is such an abysmal failure in virtually every department that it doesn’t even entertain on a “bad movie” level. There’s not a single effective scare, not a shred of tension, and not one character worth giving a damn about. Nick Castle is a depthless himbo, Elizabeth comes off as an elitist snob. Father Malone, a major character in the original film, does little more than stumble around drunk, while a completely unnecessary new character, Spooner, serves the dual purpose of being the only black guy on Antonio Island, as well as the film’s comic relief, which would be fine if he were given anything remotely funny to say.
The most disappointing character in the film, though, has to be Stevie Wayne. In the original film, Stevie was a strong, single mom who fought the pirate ghosts off with wit, skill, and sheer determination. She stayed on the air and warned the rest of the residents of Antonio Bay about the fog, told them where it was, and guided them to the relative safety of the church. In the 2005 version, Stevie is nothing more than a supporting player. She serves as part of a love triangle, bails from the lighthouse to go find her son when shit hits the fan, gets driven off the road and nearly drowns, and then, somehow, manages to meet up with everyone else at the town hall whereupon she does nothing more than shriek wildly. Oh, and while Selma Blair is a decent actress, a sexy “radio” presence she is not.
The DVD from Sony is marketed as the “Unrated” cut, but there’s nothing here in terms of gore or skin that would merit anything higher than a PG-13 anyway. There’s a bunch of extra features but, to be honest with you, I didn’t bother watching any of them because I couldn’t care less about who made this film, or how, as I was simply too busy wondering why it was even made at all.