Unscreened films duck critics' views

The Gripe

October 14, 2005|BY CHRIS KALTENBACH | BY CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

An occasional feature in which Sun writers and critics sound off about the movies.

You will not find a review of The Fog in today's Sun. Not because we critics were shirking our duties. The Fog isn't being reviewed here because the studio releasing it, Sony, chose not to screen it for critics.

I guess the folks at Sony wanted to make at least a few bucks before what they saw as the inevitable negative reviews began appearing. It is, you have to admit, a strange way to express confidence in a movie and the filmmakers behind it.

Preventing critics from seeing a film is a trick long used by studios. Typically the films being given stealth openings are either horror flicks or teen comedies, which presumes one of two things: 1) the films are bad, or 2) critics are too stodgy to appreciate them.

Neither is necessarily true. I can't speak for all critics, but I've liked plenty of horror films over the past few years - including Jeepers Creepers (and its sequel, Jeepers Creepers 2), The Grudge, 28 Days Later, even Freddy vs. Jason (which, once you got past the silly story and let the two principals have at one another, was a hoot).Teen comedies? Yes, most of them are awful, in ways anyone with a pulse should be able to discern. But there also are films like 2001's Get Over It, which turned out to be one of the year's most pleasant surprises, even though the studio apparently had zero confidence in it.

As for The Fog? Well, I liked the original, released in 1980 as John Carpenter's follow- up to his mega-successful Halloween (which happens to be both a horror movie and one of the best films of the 1970s). But I didn't love it, and was interested to see whether director Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata) could do a better job with the material.

I still don't know, but Sony's handling of the film doesn't inspire confidence.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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