The Fog

The Fog (2005)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Selma Blair, Tom Welling, Maggie Grace
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes

I am usually not someone who completely tears into bad movies in reviews because I've been a member of the creative community too long to understand that someone put heart and effort into even the worst of films. And yet, "The Fog, " the remake of John Carpenter's ghost story, simply reeks. It joins the ranks of "The Hollow Man" and "Starship Troopers" as one of the worst big budget films ever to hit the screen, as evidenced by this new DVD release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

"The Fog" is the retelling of John Carpenter's 1982 story of the seaside community Antonio Bay that is afflicted by a curse. On the town's 100th anniversary a strange fog appears from the sea and in it are the ghosts of those who were deliberately killed by the founding fathers of Antonio Bay. They come to seek revenge and begin killing the townspeople.

To me, John Carpenter's "The Fog" has always been one of his best films that contained and showcased everything he did best. Great visuals, great pacing, spooky story, Jamie Lee Curtis as a scream queen, a few well placed shocks, horror without a lot of gore, and atmosphere. Boatloads of it.

And it is exactly here where this remake fails so miserably. Everything that made Carpenter's film so great has been thrown overboard. Instead the filmmakers decided to pay homage to the original with story elements and some visuals that didn't do anything to the actual story. It is clearly a sign that neither the writer nor the director had any clue what "The Fog" was actually about and what made it such an effective movie.

Nothing in this new film makes sense or is any good. The characters are so stupid, it makes you scream. There's a difference between a scream queen as a plot device and a girl that is too dumb to add 1 and 1, and too moronic to make even the most basic common sense decision and deliberately exposes herself to danger… constantly. Sorry, I don't have much sympathy for such characters, let away patience.

The main character of the film is, of course, the fog and its atmosphere, and again the filmmakers did not understand how John Carpenter's powerful images of wafting fog drove the film's creepy premise. Here we have gobs of silly looking digital fog – oh, what a treat. There are maybe 4 shots using real smoke and fog in the entire film. Everything else you see is some stupid computer generated milky crap that doesn't even remotely look like fog and is utterly undramatic.

Then there is the decision to give the ghosts actual presence in the film, letting us see from the beginning what they look like. Well, they look like guys in cheap Halloween costumes with really bad rubber make-up. Nothing scary about it, especially not compared to the presence they had in Carpenter's film and, of course, Rob Bottin's appearance in the final moments of the original movie, which was truly chilling. And then the decision to cast Selma Blair as Stevie Wayne… Adrienne Barbeau is certainly not the greatest actress but boy, did she make that part her own. She was Stevie Wayne, whereas Selma Blair delivers a dull spineless performance and you just wonder how long it'll take for her to start talking about her small boobs again. Then, there are all those all-too-convenient moments in the film, the lack of vision and style, the boredom, and the list goes on. It boggles the mind, how anyone could so haplessly bastardize this movie.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's release of the film looks great, as expected with a highly detailed image. There are no defects in the print and the color reproduction is offering up rich hues and shades. Black levels are solid, giving the image good visual depth. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is free of artifacts.

The audio on the release is a dynamic 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that makes aggressive use of the surround channels throughout. It is a modern mix that features loud, explosive sound effects that bombard the viewer from all directions, so don't expect any subtleties in the mix. Graeme Revell provided the score for the film but like the rest of the film it lacks any sense of taste or style. There are movies in which Revell's scores help provide atmosphere with his cacophonies and the lack of music, but "The Fog" is not one of them. The score features a single motive that is very loosely resembling John Carpenter's theme, and the rest of the score is noise. For an atmospheric ghost story this kind of score is simply too industrial and completely breaks the illusion.

The DVD contains a commentary track by Rupert Wainwright. Save your time, though, it is not worth listening to as it is shallow, self-congratulatory and entirely without realizing that the director has actually delivered the worst film in his short career. This is not a film to be proud of, so spare me the platitudes.

The same goes for the other bonus materials on the disc, such as a making-of featurette – aka an electronic press kit – and a featurette on the film's mediocre special effects. A selection of deleted scenes is also included, but frankly, I was able to spot about 103 minutes of other scenes that should have been deleted from the film.

It cost $18 million to make this worthless excuse of a film. Just imagine what a real group of filmmakers could have done with all that money. This film is so utterly forgettable and bad, so don't waste your money on it. Pull out your copy of John Carpenter's version instead and enjoy.