When done right, horror movies can work very well. But more times than not, they tend to suck which is why I am not a fan of the genre as a whole. With John Carpenter’s The Fog, we are presented with an interesting dilemma. It’s not a particularly great movie, but there is something about the movie I couldn’t resist. The movie does earn points because of its stylish nature. As the title appropriately suggests, this film is about a killer fog more or less and the production team does a wonderful job in showcasing just how creepy and scary that fog was. Every time I see the green fog travelling through the town of Antonio Bay, California, goosebumps legit appeared all over my body. The movie is also well-directed. John Carpenter is often called horror’s maestro, and you can see some examples of that here. He actually wants to create a story that doesn’t totally rely upon gore or jump scares and he somewhat succeed. The movie also has a very strong beginning. John Houseman’s character Mr. Machen is telling the story around a campfire about the haunted past of the town and it sets up promise that the film only follows through half-heartedly.
This movie takes place in a small seaside town of California and it is fast approaching its one hundred year anniversary. A hundred years ago, a wealthy leper named Blake took a ship called Elizabeth Dane and used it to form a leper colony. But when sailing through the thick fog, they were wrongly led astray by a campfire and everyone on the ship was killed. As we fast forward to present day, the residents of Antonio Bay are about to celebrate their centennial anniversary. But there is about to be a major caveat to the celebration. the victims of the crash are back and with a vengeance. They are back to claim what is theirs in which was stolen from them by the town’s founding fathers.
Now my major complaint about the movie is that it follows the horror tropes by the book way too much than I wanted. Carpenter’s previous horror movie, Halloween gave the genre something new and something that is respected many years later. But this movie was weak in its characterization. It makes the women weak and the men one-note villains. Something that is seen way too much in horror films. However, the cast performed admirably with the tropes in Carpenter’s script. I loved they mostly kept the ghosts in the fog to keep the aura of suspense about, but the ending relied upon a little too much gore when compared to three-quarters of the movie. So in other words, the movie is typical of horror movies. But Carpenter’s direction and the cast were able to pull the film away from the horror of being bad.
I loved the performances of the cast. Some standouts were Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Hal Holbrook. The film follows the footsteps of Barbeau’s character, a radio DJ named Stevie Wayne. She was mostly convincing. Curtis and Leigh are horror alums and they always do well in the genre, so they delivered convincing performances of course. Hal Holbrook gave an interesting performance as Father Malone, who may hold they key for what is happening in the town.
Overall, The Fog is a better-than-average horror film if ever so slightly. I was legit terrified at some points, so that’s how you know this is a good horror film. Then again, I do love a good ghost story. The production design attributed to that feel with all of the fog and the beings behind the fog. But a good directing style and a good cast also helped elevate a rather weak script filled to the brim with tired tropes. A very strong beginning, but is let down by a mediocre ending. But I enjoyed the movie for what it was: a B-horror film.
My Grade: B-