Nick Castle (Tom Welling) makes his living with the boat his father left to him, taking tourists out to fish off of Antonio Island. He spends his spare time with local Indie radio station owner Stevie Wayne (Selma Blair) on occasion, but his former flame Elizabeth Williams (Maggie Grace) has mysteriously returned to town and recaptures Tom’s eye on the way in. In a yet completely unrelated story, on the eve of a celebration dedicating a statue to the four founding fathers of the local town, a mysterious fog seems to rise up nightly and cause aimless mayhem for the small town.
There are few excuses that Stigmata director Rupert Wainwright could use for the hack job that this remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog became. Did the studio have final cut? Did someone order a PG-13 version after the R-rated was shot? Does anyone have a clue why the original film lingered in the minds of moviegoers long enough to warrant a remake at all? If this version were an original idea with no previous connection to any previous work, the least that could be said is that the script is aimless, the film’s intent is fuzzy, and the finished product is ineffective. As a remake, there’s just no excuse for this.
We’ll start with the cast: bad choices. Everything is skewed younger, turning the sleepy town of Antonio Bay into the edge of Indie and hip-hop that the studio hopes to make their intended target; the politically-correct inclusion of a clich?© African-American into a WASP Mecca with nothing more to do than spew poor one-liners (while channeling Ice Cube) is sadly playing to the viewer of lowest common denominator. Welling and Grace have all the on screen chemistry of two wet rubber balls being squashed together, while the rest of the cast have too much backstory for one-dimensional cut-out characters. While most of the dialogue was blatant and repetitious, Selma Blair at least echoes what the audience is thinking, even if unintentionally (“Beam me out of here, Scotty”).
Next is the story: more bad choices. Gone are the campfire elements of fable to haunt the imagination throughout the running time, replaced instead with detailed, boorish, and obvious flashbacks. Moreover, the ghosts wander without purpose, establishing then breaking the rules concerning their supernatural killing abilities. Finally there’s the last gasp of the “twist ending” that can only serve as a warning to other directors that audiences aren’t buying into these anymore, especially when unwarranted and unfounded. The audience isn’t even trusted enough to draw their own conclusions before conspiracy clues are spoon-fed to them.
Lastly are special effects: they’re inconsistent and often terrible. The digital fog looks so poor in comparison to anything resembling actual fog that it’s laughable (example: the point-of-view fog that sweeps across Antonio Bay, senselessly racing forward like a swarm of killer clouds intent on making victims switch on their car window defrosters). Still other effects seem only to be self-serving, outsourced effects sequences strung together because they look cool yet make no story sense. By the end, the characters (who we feel nothing for) have become so obviously overwhelmed by the our-will-be-done supernatural entities that there’s really nothing for them (or the audience) to do and wait for it to happen; no recourse, no hope, and not enjoyable.
Again, direct comparisons to Carpenter’s original (if sometimes spotty) ghost fable aren’t fair. It’s easier to suggest that everything working in the original film was discarded and everything that didn’t was brought forward and stretched to the breaking point of predictable boredom. While The Fog‘s former creative alumni Debra Hill and John Carpenter gave their blessings as producers of the remake without involving themselves in any actual aspect of the production, it’s safe to say that the two of them truly gave the filmmakers all the rope they needed to hang themselves with. Here’s hoping at least a few of those responsible use it as intended and with our blessing.
(a no skull recommendation out of four)
But wait! There’s more! Actually, if I’d put everything wrong with this film into the review, there’d be a book. Other nonsense included:
* In a scene after one of the characters smashes up their vehicle, the lights of one or more emergency vehicle (amulance? rescue?) is clearly blinking in the background. Do the heroes seek help there? No… they wander further into the killer fog and yet do not die.
* Wandering around the town, it looks like someone has smashed every vehicle and set fire to it, but there’s no one else around, screaming, dead, or otherwise.
* Clues go from subtle (a journal inexplicably found where no one would every think to look) to ridiculously obvious (an actual painting hanging on a wall behind an easy-to-move bookshelf dicpicting a scene practically labeled “conspirators” and “unfortunate victims”).
* We never see how Selma Blair gets back from her submereged car, stumbling through the foggy and smoke-filled town with nary an attack upon her person.
* The priest is a complete waste of time. Period. No significant backstory, just a drunken man who doesn’t do the one thing he said he would: leave before he died.
* In the end, all the ghosts are fully visible yet transparent, looking more like a cheap carnie trick or blantant computer generated imagery (which is less effective, you be the judge).
I’ll think of more, give me time…
* When, exactly, did the Google search engine succumb to spirits from beyond the grave? That only happens on web sites like ours. :O)
none of the people involved with this film should ever work again in the film industry, except graeme revell.
A few more things to add to your list of inanities:
* When did Nick have time to repair all his broken truck windows? Or could it just be… poor continuity?
* The inevitable “Here’s evidence that will clear my friend of murder charges! Let’s hide it from the police!” gag. I never tire of this one.
* What brings back the undead Blake and his crew? Why, Antonio Bay is celebrating its 134th Anniversary, of course. What’s up with that? Did Blake oversleep for the centennial? Or the 125th?
* Wainwright’s camerawork is so downright myopic that I’m not sure what exactly was going on in the first few minutes of the film, but it sure looked to me as though the Sea Grass was nearly pulled down to the bottom of the ocean by getting its anchor caught on a burlap sack! In any event, what else can you say about a movie that starts by suggesting a scene from Roland Emmerich’s “Godzilla” and ends with a sentimental cop-out reminiscent of Jan deBont’s “Haunting”? “Out of ideas” scarcely begins to describe it.