The Fog Movie Review


Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

Throughout the Pantheon of living horror movie directors, none is more revered and loved than John Carpenter, creator of great films like Halloween, The Thing, and Escape from New York. e also composes his own soundtracks using cool synth sounds, and his style is very hip nowadays in the age of Stranger Things. His breakthrough movie was, of course, Halloween, which brought the chilling tale of Micheal Myers into the fears of kids and adults everywhere. But his immediate follow up was quite different. It wasn’t a slasher movie. It was a slow, methodical, supernatural horror movie based on ghost stories of long ago. I feel it’s very underrated, and I’d like to share my opinions on this very unique gem.

The movie features an all-star cast of Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Psycho star Janet Leigh, her daughter and Halloween scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, and has a script written by Carpenter and Debra Hill. Many of the characters are named after Carpenter’s friends, with Tom Atkins’s character named Nick Castle, after the guy who played Micheal Myers in Halloween. It’s always fun to find the Easter eggs in this movie, especially his many references to Hitchcock. But what’s the plot? The story-line concerns ghosts who appear in a glowing fog that terrorize the seaside town of Antonio Bay. After we see their separate stories unfold, the different characters come together to fight the ghosts in a nail-biting climax. That’s all I can really say without spoiling the movie for you- you just have to see it for yourself!

The plot is intriguing, yes, but that’s not the best thing about it. The highlight of this movie is undoubtedly its great atmosphere and music. The soundtrack is chilling, with minimalist piano sound and icy synths. This is what truly makes the movie great. The monsters are rarely seen, usually blanketed in a layer of (obviously) fog. This makes them much scarier, in my opinion, and I think it was smart of Carpenter to keep the creatures hidden, especially when the film was relatively low budget. But this fact actually turned quite a few people of the movie, and most people dismissed it as being boring.

Infographic by Branton Greenberg

But dismissing it as such is unfair. Carpenter set out to make a slow burn supernatural thriller, in the style of 50s monster flicks. It just wasn’t what the public was expecting from the guy who made Halloween.

My only real problem with the movie is its predictability. You know someone will die when the fog shows up, usually being killed by the pirate ghost’s hook. This formula can get tiring, but Carpenter (thankfully) doesn’t use this tactic very often. Only 5 people are killed in the movie. But at the same time, this is a little disappointing. We never see the fog’s effect on the town. We only see the rest of Antonio Bay’s inhabitants at the beginning. Take Stephen King’s book Salem’s Lot, which is similar to this movie in lots of ways. We see the townsfolk get terrorized by the vampires throughout the book. By the end, we see the town, devastated and destroyed. Everyone has been reduced to a creature of the night. We feel the change and how it has affected the town. Luckily, the actors elevate the tight cast of characters somewhat. Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis are fine and do a decent job as the “investigators”, although their characters are somewhat flat. Janet Leigh is upbeat and sprightly as the town’s matriarch, and although her screen-time is somewhat lacking, she gives an excellent performance despite her age. Adrienne Barbeau is convincing as the sultry radio DJ, but the highlight of the movie is Hal Holbrook. Playing a wary priest, his character, with his deep ties to the town’s past, is easily the most interesting.

Overall, The Fog is a great movie for a spooky Halloween night and for anyone who enjoys slow-burn horror. Check it out!