America shoveled $12 million last weekend in the direction of Rupert Wainwright’s “The Fog,” a sub-par John Carpenter-remake (and the second this year after “Assault on Precinct 13”), confirming audiences are still willing to cede their paychecks over to anything touting some WB stars and the promise of a few cheap thrills come Halloween season.

Film Reviews
“Close the garage door, open the windows and breathe.”
(Courtesy of Columbia)

“The Fog” brings new meaning to the expression “scared stupid” – really stupid. The film takes place on an island off the coast of Northern California, where 100 years after the gold on a lepers’ ship was stolen to found the town, the city council erects a statue as a tribute to its forefathers. A heavy fog rolls over the island on the day of the unveiling, carrying an army of shadowy, corpse-like figures. The fog proceeds to pick off the islanders one by one in increasingly creative fashion: stabbing people, setting them on fire, turning people to ash, drowning them and sucking them out of windows like a tornado.

No worries, though, because this is a horror movie, so viewers can be assured that the three most attractive cast members will survive. “The Fog” is principally an excuse for these hot 20-somethings to run around, scantily clad and scream a lot. But it even fails at that. Awkward camera movement plagues the lone sex scene, between Tom Welling (“Smallville”) and Maggie Grace (“Lost”). And Selma Blair (“Hellboy”), playing her typical “sexy bitch” role, succeeds at only creeping moviegoers out when she performs household chores wearing bikini underwear in front of her eight-year-old son.

If “The Fog” only purports to capture the teenage demographic with overplayed scary-movie conventions, a weak plot might be forgivable. But too many parts of the film simply don’t make sense. The film has moments that just don’t add up – the fog seems to kill everything it touches, yet Tom and Maggie keep cruising through it without too much trouble. Throughout the film you become so busy in the “wait-why-did-only-that-one-dead- guy-come-back-to-life?” flux that you forget to watch the movie.

Inexplicably, the film somehow manages to be scary. It travels all the familiar paths – things popping out unexpectedly, ghosts flying behind the big-chested frightened girl, booming and low-pitched pounding noises before each death – the Fog” is frightening. It features the kind of scares that come and go in the moment, fading fast enough for audiences to forget that in just a couple weeks they’ll watch “Saw II” to go through the same motions all over again.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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