Friday, August 19, 2005

The Fog Blog

Wasn't it only a few days ago that I was lamenting the state of
current Horror movies as I reviewed The Skeleton Key?  I proclaimed
that everything felt lackluster and devoid of originality.

Well it didn't take much for me to get sucked back into the loop
again.  After watching the trailer for remake of The Fog, I couldn't help but have
my curiousity peeked, a small bubble of excitement somehow finding its
way to the surface of my blogosphere.

What? Excitement for another remake?

Yes.  Its seems a bit unbelievable doesn't it?  The past couple years
have been chock full of remakes of the "classics" particuarly from the
70's - such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Amityville Horror.
The original John Carpenter The Fog was released in 1980.  I remember
my father buying the video when I was a young child, and being
petrified of hearing those slow three consecutive knocks at my door.
This was the sound that heralded the evil held within the creeping fog
of Antonio Bay.

John Carpenter is a staple of the horror and sci-fi genre, who I
believe was very influential because of the unique tone he strikes in
his films.  His style somehow conveys stark realism within a dreamlike
context.  Like the kind of nightmare that is so completely vivid, you
have to keep reminding yourself it was just a dream when you wake up.
The first Halloween film feels like it could happen to anyone, anywhere.  The circumstances are perfectly ordinary.  Just a young woman babysitting on Halloween night.  But the suspense, and the sense of terror that he creates in some of those scenes makes you want to tear your hair out with insanity.  You are screaming for Jamie Lee Curtis' to wake up and realize that everything
is not ok, and she is living in a nightmare. There is nothing scarier than
thinking you are safe in the constructs of the normalcy of your life, only to
discover something evil has invaded your reality.

The Fog is interesting, because like Halloween, which is about more than just a creepy serial killer, it is frightening on multiple levels. From a purely visual persective, Fog looks very cool and cinematic.  It is a wonderfully eerie and mysterious thing.  It has a sort of mind of its own, coming and going as it pleases.  Its misty aura casts a shroud of doubt on everything we see.  Was there a figure standing there?  Or was that just the fog playing tricks on your
eyes.  Of course, its not just about Fog, it is also about the unseen and the unknown.  The people of Antonio Bay have no idea that their town was built on a former lepers colony - the town's founders having forced out the lepers to meet certain death.  They are horrified to discover that they have been living on the site of a heinous crime, a grim past of evil surrounding them, shadowing their everyday lives. It is symbolic of our fears of the dark secrets that may lie in our own identity and our past, without our knowledge.

Sure, in retrospect there are some moments in the original Fog that now
seem a bit outdated or goofy, but I really think it holds, up and I
still find it to be very unsettling.

Which is why when I originally heard about the remake, I turned my
head to the sky groaning, thinking "oh no, not another one." They were going to turn “The Fog” into some flashy gorefest that would surely lack even a modicum of the style and substance that the first one had.

However, after seeing the trailer I changed my mind. Sometimes I think I am like the goldfish who is still surprised by the plastic castle in his bowl everytime he passes it despite the fact he’s seen it billions of times. Forget the fact that a lot of these horror remakes don’t touch the quality of the originals, and that the genre has taken a turn for the banal recently. Call me feeble minded or easily entertained, but what can I say, I thought it was a well done trailer, and my hopes have been raised for this movie.

The trailer relies heavily on, well, fog. My friend told me he thinks the fog looks like a product of a cheap smoke machine, but I disagree --I think it looks cool. I like the shots of it at the beginning where it rolls into the bay, and also that one shot where Selma Blair’s car becomes enveloped in the misty haze as she watches it purposefully slip through her car’s AC vents. From the looks of the trailer it appears that they’ve kept some of the original characters --(Selma Blair plays radio DJ Stevie Wayne, played in the original by Adrienne Barbeau), but it seems like the Nick Castle and Elizabeth characters (played in the ‘80 version by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins) may have been altered. The 2005 version has these characters played by Tom Welling and Maggie Grace (LOST cast represent!) but they appear to be more of an established couple, then the spontaneously involved swingin’ singles that Jamie Lee and Atkins were.

On a brief aside, there’s a moment in the trailer when they show Maggie Grace and Tom Welling’s character in bed together. Tom Welling bears a striking resemblance to Ian Somerhalder who portrayed the character of Boone in LOST. There’s a brief flash before Tom Welling’s face comes out of the shadow, where he could certainly be mistaken for Somerhalder. Boone and Shannon having a sleepover? Wierd, ewww. (A couple years back Somerhalder was actually cast in a guest star role in Smallville, Tom Welling’s show, involving some sort of evil twin scenario I think because they look so much alike...)

At first it seems like the entire film takes place over the course of one night. The narrative text that floats across the screen says “but tonight something form the past has come back.” But then there is a bizarro snippet of Maggie Grace yelling at a bedraggled priest in the daylight, asking him why they need to get off the island. Yet its the only segment of the entire trailer that takes place during the day, which I thought was a little strange.

The set piece with Selma Blair in the car seems neat (I am a sucker for underwater scenes), and the shot of the decayed arm on the beach is creepy. I also liked the scene with the little boy hiding from the rattling door from which a green foggy glow emanates. Not to get catty, but the only thing that scares me which shouldn’t is the hideous barn jacked from an LL Bean catalog long forgotten that Maggie Grace seems to be wearing for a lot of the film. Blech.

I also do not care much for that last “scare” moment in the trailer where they intercut Maggie Grace looking for Tom Welling’s character “Nick” --yet they randomly show one of the fisherman who was on the boat frozen/scared to death.

Otherwise my interest for the lastest horror film, and hopefully not fruitlessly, piqued. Both John Carpenter and Debra Hill who wrote the original 1980 screenplay were credited, which is another sign that they have left a lot of the orignal story intact. As for director Rupert Wainwright, I’ve never seen any of his previous works, which include the TV show Wolf Lake, and the film Stigmata. Wainwright originall hails from UK and alot of his earlier work was only released there. As of right now I have no reason to not have an open mind about his artistic abilities.

I think the one sheet is neat looking, but its also fairly reminiscent of The Frighteners, the much maligned Peter Jackson film. Take a look...

Regardless, come October, I think I’ll be willing to Fog it up.


Blogger The Moviequill said...

isn't Stephen King's short story The Fog being made now too?

6:56 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

I guess his a short story was called "The Other Side of the Fog" --though i didn't know there were making a flic on it. I actually don't even know what that story's about, I gotta go hunt around on the internet now.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Elliot said...

I LOVE The Frighteners.

10:56 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Yes, yes, as do I. God bless Peter Jackson

9:57 AM  

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