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The Fog

  The Fog
"Screw this. I'm going back to the island."`

© 2005, Columbia Pictures
All Rights Reserved

In the remote seaside town of Antonio Bay, a force of evil has awakened, and is using a thick cover of fog to infiltrate the town to seek revenge. For the locals (including Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, and Selma Blair), their survival depends on understanding why this ghostly presence has come calling, and how they can stay out of the fog's way over the course of a cold, wet night.

John Carpenter is beloved for his genre mastery, yet his 1980 film "The Fog" was one of his lesser efforts. A moody, dry horror film that didn't quite capture Carpenter's genius (that would come with 1981's "Escape From New York"), "The Fog" was determined, but severely flawed. I'm not the biggest cheerleader for remakes, but this material was ripe for a reevaluation.

Yet, the 2005 update of "The Fog" (IMDb listing) is a wooden bore, laden with unspectacular special effects and dreadful acting from television-trained youth who don't have the experience to truly deliver the goods. Directed by Rupert Wainwright (the blindingly overdirected "Stigmata"), the new "Fog" is miles away from Carpenter's vision for slowly mounting tension. The remake is just slow, and deathly dull. Wainwright sticks pretty closely to Carpenter's film in terms of story, but the two productions couldn't be more different in genre execution.

Wainwright, a student of music videos, doesn't know much about the rhythms of horror. The director knows pretty pictures, and he demonstrates his sharp eye with lush Canadian landscapes and otherworldly fog-infested small town locales. However, give the guy a simple suspense set piece or a moment of exposition, and he chokes. The scares in Wainwright's "Fog" are simple: put a character next to a wall or body of water, slowly drop the sound to silence, and then boo! Round and round the carousel of mediocrity runs, with the film speedily eroding into a flat-out annoyance as it trots out diluted PG-13 scares, ridiculously pandering characters (including an embarrassing Ebonics-heavy African-American stereotype), and just awful lead performances from Maggie Grace and Tom Welling. Wainwright tries to goose the thrills with some CG tricks that Carpenter didn't have, but he only makes the ghostly sights seem more artificial, and far less threatening.

Perhaps it's the story of "The Fog" itself that's the trouble here. Two films later, and nobody can drain some decent thrills out of it. At least Carpenter used ingenuity and a fine cast to inject some life into his flawed production. Rupert Wainwright has a much larger budget and a major studio behind him and all he can do is put the audience to sleep.

Filmfodder Grade: D

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