Poltergeist (2015) – 3 out of 5
I know, I know…we all hate remakes. The way we complain about them on the internet it would make you think that the devil himself made them and if you don’t constantly complain about them some sort of dark magic will force you to see it and your soul will be sucked from your body rather than we face the reality that making movies is big bucks and it is really easy to lose money and those who argue that there is no originality in Hollywood won’t pay money to see something that is original so production companies play it safe and do the familiar so they won’t lose money and even though the people complain they still pay the cash to see these remakes. I used to be like that until I’ve come to the conclusion that remakes really aren’t that horrible and I actually sorta look forward to see how the story is told differently. Look, I love the original Poltergeist directed by Tobe Hooper, written by Steven Spielberg (Google the story behind his involvement and how the film came to be, it’s really interesting), and starring Craig T. Nelson. The film is a classic and very creepy but I was sold on this one because the trailer looked very spooky and it had both Jared Harris and Sam Rockwell; two actors I really enjoy. I will say, right off the bat, that Poltergeist isn’t a classic like the original but it wasn’t half bad either.
|Oh, that's creepy and cool...|
|Oh, what the fuck?!? Fuck everything about that.|
The Bowens are looking for a new home after the father Eric (Sam Rockwell) loses his job. Quickly, they find a home that fits their price range and Eric and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) are gunning to make it work. Their eldest daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is a typical teen and is hating the move, their middle child Griffin (Kyle Catlett) has an uneasy feeling about the house and the youngest Madison (Kennedi Clements) is acting unusual and has been talking to nobody. They soon learn that their home was built on a terrifying secret and some vengeful spirits are dwelling in their walls. Soon, the spirits claim Madison and the family turns to Dr. Brooke Powell (Jane Adams) for help. However, the paranormal researcher is in over her head and calls in the famed television personality Carrigan Burke to come and clean the house and get Madison out of the other side.
|Don't worry...there's still a scary clown in this one.|
Overall, this remake isn't too bad and does a fairly decent job of honoring the original by playing it safe and creating a story that is not too different but it also doesn’t keep the story too fresh and unique. There are a few newer elements here and there that are pretty neat and sometimes even equates to something that is pretty creepy; however, there are moments where the film tries to do something new with the old familiar aspects of the story and it is quickly hampered by the computer effects.
The original film did some amazing practical stuff and this one goes the route that many newer horror films go—especially ghost-based ones—and filled the film with CG elements that don’t feel real and, in turn, take away from the horror. For example, in the original, there’s a great sequence where the ghouls stack up chairs and the effect was done amazingly and practical in a single shot. You can check it out here. This film takes that element but instead of chairs it involves comic books. That’s okay, you can’t have the same scene where in one shot the chairs are un-stacked and after a pan away and a pan back the chairs are stacked in seconds because then the remake would just be retreading too much of the same path but this sequence felt so empty because the surprise of having the comic books stacked in a house of cards-fashion comes off weak because it is so painfully computer generated. Nothing about it feels real whereas the chairs were clearly physically there and the effect of having them go from un-stacked to stacked in a heartbeat off screen was impressive and created a very creepy effect.
|I was going to screen cap the comic books but here's a still of something|
that was actually way better and far more intense.
This is where the film suffers the most; it's lack of an adequate atmosphere. This is partially due to a severe absence of creepy music. Naturally, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because many horror films can operate without scary music thanks to an overabundance of terror, tension and suspense but Poltergeist just didn’t have that. I don’t want to sound like this film was just disappointing on the scary front because it wasn’t but the film just wasn’t as close to being as horrifying as the original. The film has its moments that are very creepy and as the story progresses the scares get more intense and definitely get better but the entire film feels a lot tamer than the original. This could be because the film was directed by Gil Kenan—a director with very few directing credits to his name and one of them is Monster House. That's not really a film you go to for the scares...but it's still a damn fun movie.
|Shit! Peter Pan's shadow has gone rogue in a haunted house!|
One thing I really liked about the film is the cast. I’m a big fan of Sam Rockwell and I think Jared Harris is fantastic so those two actors I was really excited about. For the most part, the actors are all doing their job excellently. I wasn’t overly impressed with the younger members of the cast but they were never terrible and never took away from the experience of the film.
|"Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters? Bitch, please."|
Overall, Poltergeist wasn’t that bad of a remake. The story is good, the acting is decent and the scares definitely get better as the film progresses. Ultimately, however, the scares weren’t that scary and ended up feeling like this film was intended to be a far tamer and way more watered down version of the classic.