My brother is in town for the weekend, so I treated him to a screening of The Fog over at Metrograph. This early John Carpenter chiller is often overlooked nowadays, but hopefully this gorgeous new 4K restoration will earn it the respect it deserves. While I agree that it doesn’t quite measure up to such timeless classics as Halloween, The Thing, or even In the Mouth of Madness, the methodical filmmaking on display still stands testament to the director’s immense talent, clearly demonstrating exactly why (in his prime, anyway) he was so revered as a “master of horror.” For one thing, he avoids cheap jump scares: his vengeful, murderous ghouls don’t leap out of the darkness, accompanied by a sudden, shrill musical sting; instead, they slowly creep up behind their victims in full view of the camera, milking the anticipation of the impending bloodshed for maximum suspense. He also utilizes misdirection to brilliant effect, constantly baiting the audience with false setups before springing a completely unexpected payoff. The result is an old school ghost story as foreboding and atmospheric as the titular fog itself; I’m glad I had the opportunity to discover it on the big screen, in near-pristine condition, as it was intended to be experienced.
[Originally written October 27, 2018.]