A Tale of Two Movies

May 30, 2012

While I’m happy to say that there are a lot of films I still have to catch up with (I missed so much due to a few years of other obligations), there seems to be a catch and I know I’ve mentioned this elsewhere:  Remakes.

I’ve just caught up with the 2005 version of The Fog and this serves as an example.  Some of the problems are similar to those encountered in a lot of modern movie making, let alone the remake/reboot/re-imagining contagion.

Firstly, John Carpenter’s name is attached to the film as a Producer, but he claims his contact was minimal.  Nice to know he can at least add the disclaimer, “I didn’t do it!”.

The film itself starts with a very different shot from its predecessor and I believe that is a chunk of the problem in microcosm.  The original starts with the midnight ghost stories sequence.  Dark and with the tick of the watch acting as a pace maker, it gives you a rhythm and an atmosphere from the outset.

By 2005, it must have seemed like a better idea to start with a daylight panoramic shot.  Very scenic but it’s a bland.  This could be a modern sensibility or just a device to reduce the tension, given the difference in ratings between the two movies (the original got an R rating while the 2005 version is a PG-13).  After all, you can’t actually scare anyone with a horror movie.

Also included was a “social upgrade”.  Making and marketing a film toward the demographic that will possibly attend a PG-13 movie always seems to shift the casting toward young adult/adolescent characters with all the cyphered traits that are both implicit and explicit.  The catch there is that often a lot of those characters behave in such a way that I just can’t invest any sentiment toward them.

Characters provide me with bugbears.  There are movies wherein the characters are so awful and performances so dire and irritating that I want them to die.  Independence Day is a good example of this.  This is a stark contrast to, say, John Carpenter’s 1978 Helloween, where I got to care to varying degrees about the movie’s population, even when they were being irritating teenagers.

Sometimes, an audience will point to modern effects technology as being a big selling point, but if “improved effects” are your reason for watching a film, then I can’t help but feel that there’s something intrinsically wrong.


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