Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Fog

The Fog opens with an elderly man telling ghost stories to children on a beach. Although brief, and added after reshoots, the interlude is this film's version of Dr Loomis' Halloween framing diatribes. We are told about the destruction of a clipper, the boat shorn apart on rocks after the crew mistook a campfire, set by greedy locals, for a navigation light. The yarn helps us understand the psychological viewpoint of something betrayed and dead, a cold thing at the bottom of sea that hates the living and wants to strike out.

Despite a simplistic set-up, Fog is a little flabby. Themes fire off in a million different directions and never quite coalesce. John Carpenter and Dean Cundey spend a lot of their screentime (beautifully) photographing smoke prowling over various landscapes. Attacks are few and far between and none of the human characters are particularly interesting. Fog's main problem is the menace keeps shrinking. We start out with the idea that everybody and everything in Antonio Bay is imperilled. Unfortunately, this is quickly ditched. We trade a mini-apocalypse for a six man countdown.

Fog, like all campside bullshitting, rambles and disappoints, but the ghost attacks are great. The drowned sailors are swollen, rotting lumps, drained of colour and detail. They snatch at the living, clawing them with fish hooks and plunging kitchen knives into their bodies. Considering its adult rating Fog is unusually anaemic. Instead of arterial blood Carpenter uses a suite of visceral sound effects to turn basic mobbing into something suggestive of a crunchy, X-rated cannibal attack.

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