Cloudy script, muddled dialogue make ‘The Fog’ a murky failure

It seems sometimes that Hollywood will put up with an unbelievable amount of nonsense. Movies with Swiss-cheese plots get made constantly. Apparently, nobody is reading these scripts before they go into production. Hence, we have movies like “The Fog,” a remake of a so-so John Carpenter film.

“The Fog” takes place in the sleepy harbor town of Antonio Bay. Our hero, Nick Castle (Tom Welling of TV’s “Smallville”), is a young, attractive charter fishing boat captain with a young, attractive, wisecracking African-American sidekick named Spooner (DeRay Davis, “Barbershop”). The incongruity of the youth and attractiveness of these characters is immediately apparent, and carries through the rest of the town. The local radio station DJ and owner Stevie (Selma Blair, “Hellboy”) is also young and attractive, as is the local weatherman. Also, there are hot party girls in Antonio Bay. At first glance, it looks more like a college town then a sleepy fishing community, and Mayor Malone (Kenneth Welsh, “The Day After Tomorrow”) behaves more like an uptight dean then a community leader. Castle and Malone even have an inexplicable rivalry going.

After Castle accidentally dislodges an enigmatic bag on the ocean floor with his anchor, a mysterious fog rolls in and super-ghosts begin attacking the town. I say super-ghosts because they have such a wide range of abilities. They can lift objects with their minds, disrupt electronics, set things on fire with their minds and are somehow able to superheat people by touching them. Oh yeah, and reanimate corpses for a brief period. At around this time Castle’s ex-girlfriend Elizabeth (Maggie Grace of TV’s “Lost”) shows up for no particular reason after having been in New York for six months. She immediately sets about studying the mystery of the super-ghosts, while Castle drives her around and occasionally announces that they have to go get a boat part or save a kid.

With such a diverse array of powers, it’s a little surprising that the ghosts have as much trouble as they do with killing the human protagonists. It appears to be directly related to how central the character is to the film’s “story.” Side characters are killed swiftly and brutally and the ghosts don’t even break a sweat. All it takes is a touch or a well-placed fireball. However, when a ghost gets within spitting distance of a main character they just stand there and look spooky while the characters run away.

Then comes the ending, which contains a startling twist. Startling because there is almost no set-up for it and it makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s baffling and raises far more questions then it answers. The film even apologizes for its own absurdity through an ending voice-over by Stevie, which goes something along the lines of “We’ll never know what came back, or why, or what exactly happened. But we do know that something came back.” I felt like the writers were addressing me directly.

There were two bright spots in “The Fog.” One was the performance of Selma Blair, whose character was the only one in the film to come off looking like a real person. The other was director Rupert Wainwright’s handling of the scary scenes. There were two or three times where I grudgingly admitted that something came across well. The rolling fog was a cool effect and some interesting things were done with it. There was some nice cinematography that took advantage of the seaside location, too. Anything Wainwright did right, however, was trumped by his decision to shoot that script.

This movie was very bad. Most of the acting (although they were crippled by the dreadful script) was terrible. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone.