The Fog (1980)

Rating: 15/A
Length: 1h 29
Release: 6.11.1980
Dir: John Carpenter
About:Folks get ready to celebrate the centenary of Antonio Bay. But, many had suffered due to crimes that founded this town. Now, they rise from the sea, under the cover of the fog, to claim retribution.

The Good

  • The strength of this film is the atmosphere that’s cultivated with the opening campfire ghost story and built upon throughout the film.
  • I love the character of Stevie. She’d won me over in her first scene when she informs her caller “I’m never lonely”. At no point is she a damsel and I like that. She is a strong character who helps us learn more about the fog and its plans for the town.
  • I love the ending. While ‘old hat’ and not something I would accept from a film today, it was an excellent ‘gotcha’ and makes for an absolute resolution to the narrative.
  • Some of the effects work really well. Namely the plank of wood seeping water scene. I can imagine working with water is difficult at the best of times, but what they achieve there is chilling and entertaining.

The Bad

  • There’s a massive disconnect between the characters. There’s three distinct groups that have no connection with each other until the final act. The town, for me, it too small for this plot element to work. I also wish they’d made the connection between Kathy Williams and one of the men on the ship. I have no emotional attachment to their relationship so her loss has no weight.

The Ugly

  • Jamie-Lee’s Elizabeth feels shoe-horned in just to give her a role. That’s not to say she doesn’t do a good job with what she’s given. It’s just that there are hints to her character being more than she appears, but it ends up going nowhere. Had she have been in the town for a while and leaving as the film starts, I may have bought into her relationship with Nick a little more.
    I don’t buy into her following Nick around the way she does after one shag. I don’t get the build up of mystery for it to lead nowhere.
  • For a small town, I don’t buy into people not knowing each other. Nick is a decedent of the founders and Stevie is an established disc jockey in town. How is that they don’t know each other, even in passing?!
  • The more we see of the ghosts, the less impact they have. In one the final scenes, we really do get too close a look at one of them and it undoes a lot of the tension built.

Final Thoughts

Brilliant premise, with a great leading lady in Adrienne Barbeau, however, the final product feels very disconnected and as a viewer, I struggled to invest in anyone in the town.

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