FOG, THE (director: Rupert Wainwright; screenwriters: Cooper Layne/screenplay from John Carpenter in 1980; cinematographers: Nathan Hope/Ian Seabrook-underwater; editor: Dennis Virkler; music: Graeme Revell; cast: Maggie Grace (Elizabeth Williams), Tom Welling (Nick Castle), Selma Blair (Stevie Wayne), DeRay Davis (Spooner), Kenneth Welsh (Mayor, Tom Malone), Adrian Hough (Father Malone), Sara Botsford (Kathy Williams), Cole Heppell (Andy Wayne), Mary Black (Aunt Connie), Jonathon Young (Dan The Weatherman), R. Nelson Brown (Machen), Matthew Currie Holmes (Sean Castle), Sonja Bennett (Mandi), Meghan Heffern (Brandi/Jennifer), Rade Serbedzija (Captain Blake); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John Carpenter/Debra Hill/David Foster; Columbia Pictures; 2005)
“Even foggier than the disappointing original.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This unnecessary remake of John Carpenter’s 1980 The Fog is even foggier than the disappointing original. Remade by Rupert Wainwright (“Stigmata”) as an easy money maker requiring no artistic effort, original script, costly special effects, or skilled actors. The film is done with Carpenter’s stamp of approval (He probably said something like, “Show me the money.”), but has little merit as a supernatural ghost story about revenge. It was made as if for a film school project encouraged by pencil pushing marketers to evoke every formulaic cheap scare trick it could fit into this ridiculous tale, and making things worse it brings on board a banal melodrama that had its poorly defined characters spouting lame lines and tiresomely feigning fright in countless reaction shots to the cheesy sinister fog that is menacing the area.
It’s set in picturesque coastal Antonio Island, Oregon. The small quiet town is honoring its four founding fathers, Malone, Williams, Wayne and Castle, with a statue for their courageous discovery of the island in 1874. Nick Castle (Tom Welling), whose ancestor was a founding father, is the hunky charter boat skipper of the Seagrass. While out on a fishing-excursion with clients Nick’s first mate Spooner (DeRay Davis) extricates the wreckage of a clipper ship and unbeknownst to them unleashes the fog-bound spirits of the schooner that went down over a hundred years ago. Back on shore, Nick’s rebel girlfriend Elizabeth Williams (Maggie Grace), also related to a founding father, surprises by returning after doing her thing in the Big Apple and they celebrate by a night of balling. The next morning they discover Spooner borrowed the Seagrass but didn’t return it. When they go out to sea, they find three party people dead aboard the love boat and Spooner barely alive because he hid in the freezer from the supernatural fog that attacked but remains in a state of shock from what he witnessed. The hokum continues as Mayor Tom Malone (Kenneth Welsh) and Elizabeth’s bitchy mommy, historian Kathy Williams (Sara Botsford), unveil the founding father’s statue in the town square and a sudden unnatural fog causes a power outage and covers the town. It threatens lighthouse-based sultry nighttime deejay Stevie Wayne (Selma Blair), also a descendant of a founding father and the mother of a curious beachcombing 12-year-old Andy who found a hairbrush from the ghost ship washed ashore that’s covered with seaweed and giving off bad vibes. The fog also threatens the testy alcoholic Father Malone, a descendant of a founding father, who becomes aware that bad stuff is about to go down when at the local cemetery he found scribbled on the wall something from the Bible that’s written in the ancient language, “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting,” but doesn’t have much of a personality to do anything about it except shout out that one must get off the island.
When Elizabeth, who has been experiencing bad dreams, escapes drowning in a beach house accident, she has time to discover a journal from Malone’s founding father relation that explains why the fog is in such a bad mood. She reads it while the fog releases spectral figures that attack all sorts of island denizens for reasons made clear in the journal or some for reasons never made clear, but I guess the filmmaker thought it would be cool to keep the viewer preoccupied with their murders or escapes from the killer fog.
There wasn’t anything that kept me glued to the screen, feeling scared, caring about any of the bland characters depicted, or wanting to thank the producers for this unremarkable remake. It’s the kind of film made purely to entertain and bring in the dough, and never entertains and I hope against all odds that it doesn’t bring in the dough (why encourage these industry folks to make more pics like this!). It brings movies to a new low in standards.
REVIEWED ON 10/21/2005 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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