What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has violence, as ghostly sea zombies slash into living folks with their cutlasses. This happens in quick "shock" edits, which are careful to leave the worst of it to your imagination. Still the director's favorite trick seems to be a nice, shiny blade suddenly popping out of a victim who's been run clean through. The movie is still too violent for kids and tweens.
What's the story?
In THE FOG, an old sailor (John Houseman) tells spellbound boys of a shipwreck 100 years earlier, and the restless dead mariners at the bottom of the sea. The yarn turns out to be a whitewash of what really did happen here, with the terrible truth revealed as the community looks forward to celebrating its hundredth anniversary. At the stroke of midnight, glass breaks all over town, and walls tremble. Out at sea a trawler is surrounded in weird, glowing fog. Fishermen on board see a ghost ship and are slain by its ragged, shadowy crew bearing cutlasses. At the town church, hard-drinking Pastor Malone (Hal Holbrook) finds an old diary that says an island colony plagued with the dreaded disease leprosy was planning to move to the shore and paid the founders of Antonio Bay in gold for the privilege. However, six prominent townspeople lit a false signal-fire on the beach so the ship would wreck on the rocks instead. Now, the dead are back for revenge, to claim the lives of six locals -- or whomever they can just get their claws on.
Is it any good?
Fog of a different sort seems to have muddled the shapeless script, co-written by director John Carpenter. Though The Fog has a few bona fide jump-out-of-your-seat moments, it's also got ridiculous and logic-defying details viewers of any age should see right through. Sometimes the living dead materialize wherever the fog seeps in, sometimes a locked door or window stops them, and more silly things that most kids will pick up on.
In-joke character names are derived from horror movies/literature and John Carpenter's moviemaking associates (Arthur Machen, Dr. Phibes, Dan O'Bannon), but the talented cast, in thinly-sketched roles, plays things entirely straight-faced, unlike later horror movies where dark humor was abundantly added to the terror. The movie ends on a rather grim note of inevitable fate that's like the slam of a coffin lid. If it had a little less violence, sex, and profanity, The Fog could pass for a "Goosebumps"-style chiller strictly for youngsters, like the campfire ghost story that opens the narrative.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the victims in this movie seem particularly innocent and remote from the foul deed of their ancestors. You could talk about this and the Biblical idea of "the sins of the fathers" and apply it to real events. Putting aside the killer undead lepers for a while, should people a century in the future be held accountable for such atrocities as Pearl Harbor? The Holocaust? September 11? Slavery?