The Fog (2005)

the-fog-2005-poster“What kind of fog goes against the wind?”

The Scoop: 2005 PG-13, directed by Rupert Wainwright and starring Maggie Grace, Tom Welling, and Selma Blair

Tagline: No tagline

Summary Capsule: On a town’s 100th anniversary, the descendents of the town’s founders find out the horrific way that passed-on family traits include curses.

Kyle’s Rating: Don’t look in anger, I heard her say

Kyle’s Review: Since I had just truly experienced the original The Fog about a week before I saw the 2005 incarnation, I was prepared to be bowled over by the remake, possibly even to the extent of preferring a modern horror director’s work over the great John Carpenter’s. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but that’s pretty impressive for me.

Now, after seeing both, I can say that I enjoyed them both but it’s the original that I’m happy to own for repeat viewings. The remake is a nice try, and actually succeeds many times to be fresh and interesting, but ultimately left me cold. If you’re even slightly interested in seeing The Fog, I’ve got to steer you towards the original. It’s (only) slightly dated and a little slower than modern horror leaves you prepared for, but it’s a much more rewarding ghost story than the remake.

This new version does enough right that it vindicates its own right to be a remake of an earlier horror film; sticking close enough to the original plot, characters and even dialogue to pay the proper homage (in a lot of ways it’s more update than remake!) but adding enough new material to keep the attention of those who are familiar with the original as well as people who have no idea this film is a remake. I took no umbrage that this film took liberties with the characters and their connections, and by the final reel I was so won over that the reworked and surprisingly different ending didn’t jar me out of the movie; I waited until the walk to the car to consider the thematic variations and implications of all the changes. So it’s got all that going for it. Which is nice.

I’m sitting here feeling let down, though. This is another situation where the parts are overwhelmingly better than the whole, although there are plenty of parts that are just lame or flat-out stupid. Well, that’s too harsh. It would be more appropriate to say that there are plenty of parts that pale in comparison to the original, and that some of the modern touches (jump scenes, ghastly murders, music cues) work against the momentum.

The cast isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. Tom Welling isn’t as strangely charismatic as Tom Atkins, but he’s quite good as a small town fisherman who’s got the looks to cozy up with the two hottest women in town. One of them (Selma Blair’s Stevie Wayne) is a powerhouse of charisma and sex appeal, the other (Maggie Grace’s Elizabeth Williams) is a statuesque beauty of sex appeal and almost zero charisma (some of her fashion choices provide her with the shallowest of depths). Everyone else is okay, but not too outstanding. Blair is amazing as a subversive radio station owner who handles all DJ duties but considers her son’s safety above all else, and Welling puts his Smallville experiences into action as the hero. I appreciated a little added depth thrown into the mix by giving Welling a history with both women, and I greatly appreciated that it never devolved into any kind of cat fights or hurt feelings for cheap drama’s sake.

You might enjoy this modern Fog if you haven’t seen the original. The special effects are undeniably impressive (for a film like this), there’s enough creativity and complexity to make it stand out in its genre (even if most of it’s charm is lifted verbatim from the original’s shooting script), and the cast is much more photogenic. I just can’t get over its failings in the comparison to the original, and I don’t think it does enough to win me over as a horror film. All of its entertainment value gets cheapened because I liked it better the first time I saw it when it was called, well, The Fog (1978-style!). Rent it for Selma Blair’s brief but memorable horror turn, and because ghost stories are always more claustrophobic and often more effective on smaller screens. But if you want real enjoyment, just get the original. Almost 30 years later, it still holds up. I doubt this one will.

Movin' right along... footloose and fan-cy free! Getting there is half the fun, come share it with me.

Movin’ right along… footloose and fan-cy free! Getting there is half the fun, come share it with me.

Intermission!

  • Selma Blair was the studio’s first choice for Stevie Wayne, but she was not offered the part because Julia Stiles was still attached to play Elizabeth. Blair and Stiles had acted together two times previously (in Down to You, and most recently A Guy Thing). When the role of Elizabeth went to Maggie Grace, Blair was contacted and her contract closed with 48 hours. She started shooting less than two weeks later.
  • Fergie (vocalist Stacey Ferguson of the Black Eyed Peas) was attached to play Stevie Wayne before a last minute conflict prevented her contract from closing.
  • Producer Debra Hill died shortly before filming began.
  • Selma Blair did almost all of her own stunt work for the film, and spent 12 hours in a water tank (with only short surface breaks) for two straight days to shoot her underwater scenes.
  • Tom Welling’s character, Nick Castle, is named after the actor who played Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Groovy Quotes

Spooner: It killed them. The fog killed them.

Stevie Wayne: What kind of fog goes against the wind?

Fisherman: Once your friend thaws out he’d better have a damn good story!

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2 Comments

  1. I haven’t see this version and horror isn’t my fave genre, but the original is one of my favorite old horror movies. Its all about atmosphere! I have been hesitant to check this out but, reading the review, I’ll watch it if it shows up on tv.

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