The Fog passes muster as a horror movie, if you were to put a grade to it. It definitely gives a little jerk to your chair in parts, dilates your pupils, makes you hug yourself in shuddering anticipation. Then the lead phantoms are pretty spooky in the shadows, and promise legit panic when unveiled. The screams of the horrified humans make your heart miss many a beat, and come at times when your own terror is at its roiling peak, ready to cascade over the edge like a waterfall at the slightest impetus.
But The Fog, unfortunately, is no coup de resistance of the horror genre. It is more of a quality checked product that pops out of a fancy wrapper. And so the cliches hang around, like watchful self-proclaimed sentinels of a thriller, forcing themselves in, insisting on being there. And then when the director doesn't drive them out soon enough, they unite like the three witches of Macbeth, to foresee its death.
The last few scenes of The Fog are like a stupid, maudlin Bollywood movie – they will shock you not as much for their scare-factor as for their silliness and the way they simply don't seem to be coming from the same guy who made the first 3/4ths of the movie. This 2005 movie is a remake of a 1980 version starring Jamie Lee Curtis and directed by John Carpenter. This time Carpenter is producing it while Wainwright is directing it. And the story is pretty much the same loaded one.
Inexplicable killings begin in an isolated northern California town after a few antique objects get washed ashore at its beach. A sudden, climatology defying, near solid fog keeps reaching over like a Tsunami from the sea to envelope the land. Under the cover of this, people die grisly deaths. The minor detail that becomes the thread which hauls up the entire buried story later is that the 100th anniversary of the town's founding is approaching.
Maggie Grace plays Elizabeth Williams, a girl returning to the town from New York, because she is having nightmares about people burning, and herself drowning. Her estranged mother is Kathy Williams (Sara Botsford), a city do-gooder and the descendent of one of its founders. Stevie Wayne (Selma Blair) is a radio jockey whose son Andy (Cole Heppell) is in the infuriating habit of raking up buried, possessed objects, thus sinking the movie another inch in its comfortable quagmire of clichés.
Tom Welling (Nick Castle) is the hunk who looks like a Greek god in the foggy shadows, and exists only to put his beefy arms around Elizabeth everytime she has a nightmare. He turns up the heat and notches up the ogle-worthiness of the schtick. His curly hair, pouty lips and sheer, bulky muscle might actually, in combination with the scattered scares of the movie, make it worth a watch for the girls.
Meanwhile, there are kiddishly precise rules governing the spook-battles, that make you chortle many a time, and get irritated when even they are breached. Like, you can't leave even an inch of space open to let the fog in, or it will possess you. So Andy tapes the bottom of his door, with a Home Alone style childish self-sufficiency, and escapes with aplomb. Yet, when Elizabeth and Tom go around the town in their car, they seem curiously immune to the prying fingers of the fog.
But let's not pick nits when the truth is that The Fog does have chills, and would give you one-and-a-half quick hours crammed with twitters. Of course, it won't keep you awake at night if you are anything of a horror movie aficionado. In the theater, though, it will keep you on the edge of the seat and absorbed, whether guessing the next twist, celebrating your predicting ability, or genuinely getting walloped. A hot enough pick for thirty five bucks – strong buy!