Lost in the haze

The Fog, one very inept attempt at a remake

ROAD TO NOWHERE <br>Actors (from left) Maggie Grace, Cole Heppell and Tom Welling have no idea where their characters are driving within the ill-conceived shroud of The Fog<i>.</i>

Actors (from left) Maggie Grace, Cole Heppell and Tom Welling have no idea where their characters are driving within the ill-conceived shroud of The Fog.

The Fog Starring Tom Welling, Maggie Grace and Selma Blair. Directed by Rupert Wainwright. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

While it wasn’t particularly scary, John Carpenter’s 1980 ghost story The Fog was nonetheless a fairly solid little B-movie about a remote coastside town revisited one foggy night by the sins of its forefathers. The premise was simple: The town of Antonio Bay is all giddy over the unveiling of a statue commemorating the centennial of the town’s founding. Little do they realize, however, that the forefathers built the town essentially on the bones of a boatload of rich lepers that they lured onto the rocks and left to drown, pilfering their swag afterward. On this night, the dead rise from Davy Jones’ locker and begin to make short work of the direct descendants of the land-locked pirates while on their way toward reclaiming the gold.

While not really a big supporter of the sudden rush to remake “old” horror chestnuts, I’ll admit that the remakes of Dawn of the Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre were fun in their own right, and hold their own as solid entertainment.

The remake of The Fog exists only as solid waste, and would be regurgitated immediately from any toilet unfortunate enough to have this cinematic excrement shoved down its throat. While the premise remains the same, scribe Cooper Layne (The Core) has pulled off an extraordinary feat in not only stripping the original script of anything resembling internal logic, but retaining the set-ups—but not the payoffs—of the original dialogue, and capping it off with a resolution that doesn’t even remotely imply a sentient thought behind it. Throw in excruciating amounts of tin-eared dialogue meant to flesh out the somnambulistic caricatures that serve as leads, and remove the motivations of what drove a couple of the secondary characters, and what’s left floating in the bowl is easily one of the worst examples of a so-called screenplay inexplicably committed to a mega-million dollar film in quite a while. Even the narrative of the mind-bogglingly bad video-game adaptation House of the Dead shines in comparison.

The cast is just as vacuous, with that Clark Kent dude from Smallville and The Bitch from Lost standing about droning interminable plankfaced exchanges in hushed monotones. They disrobe occasionally to expose their sunken chests and bony-asses for the edification of the PG-13 crowd. Selma Blair indulges in some slumming to stand in as a reedy-voiced deejay broadcasting the soundtrack-friendly garbage from a lighthouse radio station. Some black dude is thrown into the otherwise Wonder Bread community to serve no other purpose other than to be The Black Dude, but also exists dangerously close to being a Step’n Fetchit redux. Word, dawg. Another guy wanders about with a rapidly spreading case of facerot that nobody notices because he slapped a dainty band-aid over part of it (a plot point brought up but never explained). Backlit crappy CGI ghosts move through the crappy CGI fog looking all underworld like the haunts of Guns ‘n’ Roses coming back onstage for an encore.

Of course, booking Rupert Wainwright (the director of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’em—The Movie) as the captain to this ill-fated cruise pretty much delivered the iceberg to Liverpool. With by-the-numbers riffs on the genre tropes, and ham-fisted setups that telegraph the half-assed jolts to follow (exacerbated by “composer” Graeme Revelle slamming his fists on the piano keys to insure maximum cringe factor), one is left wondering where the hell Wainwright got his schooling … DeVry Film Academy, perhaps?

Given a shot at remaking Plan 9 From Outer Space, this crowd could make it look better, but still deliver a worse movie.