While an old, weather-beaten fisherman tells a ghost story to fascinated children huddled by a campfire, a piece of driftwood in a child’s hands begins to glow, and an eerie fog envelops the seaside community of Antonio Bay. From its midst emerges demonic victims of a century-old shipwreck seeking revenge on the small town. Director John Carpenter’s follow-up to his breakout film, Halloween, stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh.
Directed by John Carpenter
8 out of 10
All of John Carpenter’s best films take simple ideas and expand them by the use of creative and atmospheric worlds. Halloween took a normal neighborhood and made it terrifying, The Thing created a sense of gloom within the snow and cold of Antarctica, and the Fog uses darkness and shadows to create one of my favorite ghost stories ever put to screen. His movies are more dependent on the setting and location than most filmmakers to create the mood.
The opening of the film really sets the stage with the legendary John Houseman telling a scary story around a campfire and then dropping us right into the island where we’ll spend the next 90 minutes. The Fog is a classic sleepover ghost story similar to the one we’ve all hear a million times about the murderer coming back for revenge and scratching the car with his hook(ironically, the ghosts have hooks here too).
The script is really simplistic and silly. Supposedly, pirates were screwed over by the Church and now they’re back to re-claim their treasure. Now, before you start to get flashbacks of a Scooby-Doo episode, understand that this is a John Carpenter film and he is a master at creating suspense. Director of Photography Dean Cundey was at the top of his game here too. The island is an absolutely perfect setting and his camera work is nothing short of stunning. He makes low budget films look a lot more expensive by his use of excellent framing as well as his use of darkness and shadows.
The performances are nothing to really write home about. Jamie Lee Curtis is really bland, Tom Atkins is blah, and Adrienne Barbeau is nice to look at but offers little else. So, why am I rating this an 8 with a simplistic story, bland acting, and a silly mystery? Because the Fog is all about atmosphere and suspense. And in that line of thinking, it delivers in spades.