The Fog

The Fog ★★★½

When it's just rolling neon fog, or small town architecture at night glowing under ominously-underpowered street lights, or eerily still human shapes barely visible in that low cloud of otherworldly droplets, the vibes are just perfect, the turn-of-the-80s atmosphere so thick it could take down power lines. When it has to do something with that atmosphere it's less likely to keep you up at night; there's an extended daytime second act that bogs things down in back story that isn't that interesting and mystery the audience already knows the answer to, and while that contributes to the film's 50s B-movie energy (that mild impatience those movies excel at creating, as they pad their run times with long scenes of everymen and science types trying to explain the unexplainable when all we really want is to see that same unexplainable horror wreck some shit), it feels a little like filler, though admittedly filler with a lot of great shots of the California ocean and the craggy cliffs and lighthouses that jut out over it. When the film gets back to it, though, it's a right good time, its monsters just creepy enough to be thrilling without ever reaching actual terror (love that the ghosts are polite enough to knock before they attempt home invasion), and its archetypes and lore just silly enough (the tormented priest! The husky-voiced DJ-MILF! The conveniently-hidden giant golden cross that acts as a ghost-placating skeleton key!) to give this all the pleasant coziness of a matinee adventure flick. Assuredly not Carpenter's best work, but you can tell all involved had a good time making it and the feeling translates well, like standing in a clumpy cumulus collection of spooky fun as it dreamily floats past.

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