Release Date: May 22, 2015
Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), Steven Spielberg (story)
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Jane Adams, Susan Heyward, Nicholas Braun, Karen Ivany, Patrick Garrow, Doug MacLeod, Eve Crawford, L.A. Lopes, Soma Bhatia, John Stoneham Jr. Kathryn Greenwood, Molly Kidder
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Ghost House Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Fox 2000 Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Genre: Horror, Thriller
While many loathed the idea of a Poltergeist remake, some greeted the news with cheers. The ones cheering most likely are from the younger demographic, and after watching the film, I believe that’s definitely the film’s target audience. Not having seen the original, I can’t compare the two, but I am now very curious about how this title received its classic horror movie status back in 1982. This status raises so many questions as to how the original caused so many nightmares, and yet the remake only brought forth laughs.
The Poltergeist remake is entertaining to say the least, but it does not remotely approach being scary. It doesn’t even succeed with cheap jump scares, and fails to bring forth any sense of danger. It’s a light-hearted comedy that wastes its few shocking moments on the trailers, then dishes you a childish rendition of ghouls and ghosts in the actual film.
Eric Bowmen (Sam Rockwell) takes his wonderful and loving family to a new home in the suburbs, and this is most likely the biggest mistake he’s ever made. When we meet his family, we sense the love and warmth between them, yet the emotions feel a little misplaced. Although Eric is the father, he sometimes comes across as a fun uncle or an older brother rather than the man of the house. Still, you feel the passion between him and his lovely wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt), and their children Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) are hilarious, soaking up everything in their surroundings like a sponge.
Griffin is my favorite character of the bunch. He does exactly what you would want him to in this type of film, and you root for him throughout his adventure. He’s curious and smart and also contains the latest drone technology the market has to offer. Kendra, his younger sister, is the most adorable thing around. She’s very different too, seeing that when the closet speaks to her she takes it as normal instead of being frightened. It’s hard not to love the family, even though the relationships between them seem peculiar at times; they do the best with the cards they’re dealt, and that’s all you can ask for.
The film, I repeat, is quite the opposite of frightening. I found myself and the rest of the auditorium laughing the whole time. I’m not sure if this is the goal of the movie, but if it is, it succeeds with a high rank. Every encounter the family faced and reacted to brought tears of joy.
No tension is developed, and nothing is at stake to add weight to the story. There’s a sense that everything is going to be ok, and that’s not a good feeling to produce in your audience when you’re trying to convey that the family’s in grave danger. With expectations already being low, my mood wasn’t crushed due the tone of the film not living up to what the trailers promised. It was even quite refreshing to receive something I hadn’t expected.
On a positive note, the film doesn’t waste any time getting to the magic and mayhem. When the special effects hit, they are cranked up all the way and don’t let up until the credits roll. This is also where all the fun is. From what I’ve heard about the original film, the remake hits all the key points of its predecessor, but it feels like a check list: with no stakes involved, many events just seem to be happening because they happen in the original. It’s still fun to witness, but of course you can’t take the film seriously.
There’s always that dumb character in scary movies who deserves to die. Why this is so is beyond my understanding. I like watching characters that actually move the story along, but here they slow it down. Just as you can’t expect the movie to be scary, you can’t expect to take the characters seriously either.
Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) is one such character and it sucks, because I appreciate his work as an actor. He’s supposedly been a real professional in dealing with the Poltergeist, knowing all the ins and outs. It’s as though such things happen to him every weekend, which we know isn’t the point. He conveniently has a free schedule and decides to visit the home when he’s across the nation. In addition to his stupidity, his grand plan to rescue Kendra from captivity involves Griffin’s drone bot flying off and saving the day. This alone knocks the film down a few notches, seeing that if this device didn’t exist, Carrigan’s plan would’ve fallen through. So there you have it, folks. If you have a Poltergeist in your home, make sure you have a flying drone to help you save the day.
So if you’re a horror junkie and want the next scary movie to add to your list, the 2015 remake of Poltergeist is definitely not it. In all honesty, this doesn’t mean the film is horrible. It just matters what you’re looking for when going in. It’s definitely very entertaining, and you’ll laugh from the beginning to the end. Take that information going in and you might have a good time. If this movie was marketed as a spoof or a comedy of some sort, it would nearly be a masterpiece. You won’t need any overnight guest sleeping at your place after watching the movie, and getting through the night with the lights off will be easy as it can be.