The Fog (2005)

Bad horror remakes are a dime a dozen these days.  Not only are we continually subjected to updated American dreck like The Amityville Horror and House Of Wax, we also have to put up with dreadful Americanized re-tellings of Japanese fare like The Ring and The Grudge.  No matter how many times these movies get panned by critics, the audiences keep responding.  As a result, more old titles are given the retread treatment.  It’s gotta stop, fellas.  Seriously.
 
The 2005 update of The Fog is a case in point.  Originally made by John Carpenter in 1980, this completely unnecessary reworking takes too long to get to the point.  More importantly, it’s just not scary.
 
The movie opens with a mysterious flashback.  A man screams out a comrade’s name.  A fallen oil lamp is responsible for the eruption of flames on a rather large vessel.  Another man, a walking fireball, falls into the water for sweet relief.
 
Meanwhile, 4 men observe the scene in a rowboat and make their escape.  Then, they hit something hard.  It won’t let them pass.  One of the men can’t quite see what’s under the water.  It doesn’t matter.  It swoops up in a matter of seconds and returns where once it came, taking that same man with him.
 
Many years later, we learn that those men were the Founding Fathers of a place called Antonio Island in Oregon (the film was actually filmed on an island near British Columbia, Canada).  It’s a breathtaking location.  A local DJ (Selma Blair) helpfully announces that the weather is perfect for the official unveiling of a statue commemorating the achievements of these men.
 
But all is not well in this place.  A bizarre fog is moving in and no one seems to have a clue why.  (More on that in a moment.)
 
Blair broadcasts her show in an old lighthouse (shades of Screaming Lord Sutch) but apparently, is the only DJ on this FM station.  (We never see any other employees and the channel doesn’t air 24 hours of programming a day.)  She’s also a single mom who’s having an affair with Tom Welling.  Yep, Superman from Smallville, who’s not exactly single.  He runs a fishing boat with his buddy, Spooner (DeRay Davis), the token black guy who tries a little too hard to be funny.  Too bad he’s not given any funny lines.  (However, Dick Cheney doppelganger Kenneth Welsh, who plays the mayor, gets off a hilarious quip at his expense.)
 
Welling’s blonde girlfriend, Elizabeth (the beautiful Maggie Grace), predictably returns to the island after being away for a few months.  (In a bizarre scene that showcases the Welling character in a most unflattering light, he accidentally picks her up one night thinking she’s just some hot chick he can score with.  Dude, don’t you remember what she sounds like?)  Their relationship is not only unconvincing but confusing.  Why did she leave without saying goodbye?  How are they able to sleep in the same bed acting as if nothing bad had happened previously?
 
Elizabeth is having terrible, recurring nightmares.  Instead of checking in with a psychiatrist like an intelligent person, she’s back on the island looking for answers.  She has a frosty relationship with her mother (Sara Botsford from ENG), the local curator who is more upset about the "historically inaccurate" statue that’s been commissioned in honour of the four Founding Fathers than about the state of her kid.  Clearly, this could’ve been developed more.  We really have no idea why they’re not getting along.
 
As Elizabeth tries to figure out the significance of her night terrors, a mysterious fog moves in.  It has only one thing on its mind:  murder.  How it’s able to achieve this again and again remains a miracle of science.  Fortunately, the movie doesn’t go over-the-top with gory death scenes, although it seems to relish seeing characters get burned to a crisp just a little too much. 
 
Ultimately, none of this really matters.  The movie never properly establishes the right atmosphere for the terror sequences and it never gives us fully developed characters to really sink our teeth into.  It never really wins you over, thanks to its overlong, sluggish running time.
 
About midway through the film, a very helpful librarian gives a brief but informative history lesson on 3 symbols Elizabeth keeps seeing in her dreams and around the island, one of which is the scales of justice.  Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle slide into place.
 
When we finally learn everything that happened that fateful night on that large vessel back in the late 1800s, it’s a rather interesting twist.  But then we realize something else.  This is nothing more than a simple minded revenge fantasy.  However, an unusual "reunion", of sorts, takes place at the end and when you think about it, it’s creepier than anything else that happens in this mess.
 
It’s no wonder this movie wasn’t screened for the critics prior to its October 2005 theatrical run.  It just doesn’t work.  The love triangle and mother/daughter storylines are never properly dealt with, we don’t really get to know or care about the heroes of the story and even though, the movie looks great and has some terrific special effects, there aren’t any significant scares.  We don’t exactly hate the villains, either.  They actually have a pretty good motive for their killings.
 
Still, it could’ve been worse.  A lot worse.
 
This version of The Fog ranks about the same as the recent update of The Amityville Horror.  It’s ordinarily bad and rather forgettable.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 8, 2007
9:37 p.m.
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Published in: on April 8, 2007 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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