Between my busy schedule and the high cost of seeing a movie in the theater (on average more than half the cost of buying the film on DVD), it’s almost an event when I get out to see a film. And yet, a good 50% of the time, I end up seeing movies I should never have even considered seeing in the theater. Last year, I actually paid money to see Aliens vs. Predator and Resident Evil: Apocalypse on the big screen. And now, this weekend, there was The Fog.
I rented the original Fog a few months back, having read various references to the film over time. The 1980 film was director John Carpenter’s follow-up to Halloween. The film’s plot involves an Oregon fishing town and the dirty little 100-year-old secret that has come back to haunt it (literally).
I thought it was interesting, and the plot had some nice Lovecraftian overtones, but ultimately it left me a bit cold. The story ends up rather murky, and the motivations and goals of the vengeance-seekers are somewhat unclear (as you can see, my brief review of the film is as vaporous as the meteorological phenomenon of its title).
In any event, when I heard Hollywood was remaking The Fog, it struck me as something that might be good. The original was a fairly mediocre thriller that might just be scary with some better special effects and acting.
The 2005 version gives us the effects, but not the acting. Tom Welling (Smallville) plays the lead male role, while Maggie Grace (Lost) plays the female lead; Selma Blair, in a supporting role, provides the sole non-television Hollywood presence. I can’t really fault any of the three for their acting; they just play the roles as they’re written.
Hollywood seems to be remaking a lot of horror films these days. There was The Haunting (1999), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Amityville Horror (2005), and, if the rumors are true, soon we’ll have a remake of–God help us–The Evil Dead.
To be fair, I think many of these films are good candidates for remakes. I’ve always thought that Hollywood should stop trying to remake good films and try remaking bad or at least low-budget ones.
But many of the remakes haven’t tried to improve on the originals so much as update them for the post-Scream teen audience. Case in point: in the original Fog, the first victims are a bunch of everyday fishermen in a boat. In the remake, those victims morph into two hot teenaged girls and their slavering male escorts. It’s stupid pandering to the teenybopper crowd and immediately lowered my expectations for the rest of the film.
That said, the film does improve on the original in one department: the effects. While a lot of them are used to cheesy effect, there are some creepy, atmospheric shots of the fog moving toward the island town and engulfing it. Just one such shot gave me a sense of creeping dread and communicated to me the sense of a sleepy town doomed for a crime that no even remembers having been committed. Throughout the film, the sense of randomness by which the evil forces choose their victims does provide some genuine chills.
But in the end, what we have is a mediocre thriller with a decent plot and bad special effects making a lateral move in quality to a film with a bad plot and decent special effects.
I’m sure the remake of Evil Dead will go the Scream/teen route, given its story. The only hope for it will be in the casting and the choice of director. Sam Raimi, busy with the Spider-Man franchise, won’t be helming, but only serving as executive producer. Here’s hoping he finds someone trustworthy to take the reigns. Personally, I’m still bummed we didn’t get Jason vs. Freddy vs. Ash.
Oh, and the next movie I plan to see in the theater? Doom. I guess I never learn.