Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jane Adams, Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, and Kennedi Clements
The original Poltergeist is one of the great horror films ever made. Next year it will be forty years old and has truly stood the test of time. It was inevitable that the classic would eventually get remade, and after many years of false starts, the remake was released in 2015, with a poor critical reception and a modest box office return. Since then, the remake has faded in memory, not being able to break out of the shadow of the original.
The story is almost identical to the original. A family move to a new house, after Eric (Sam Rockwell) recently lost his job. The house is run down, but it’s the best they can find within their budget. As they try to settle in, strange occurrences start happening. A box of clowns is found in the attic and the electrics are all messed up. When Eric and Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) go out for a meal, the kids are left alone and that’s when the presence in the house makes itself known, taking the youngest child, Maddie (Kennedi Clements), into a different dimension. Eric and Amy, not knowing what to do, turn to a local university’s paranormal group to help them find their daughter.
Most of the memorable moments from the original are recreated here from the iconic ‘they’re here’ to the bodies coming out of the ground. They just don’t feel as special as they did in the original. The moments are there because they need to be. The static in the TV that Maddie speaks to is replaced with a strange and glitchy looking screen. It’s not as unnerving or creepy as it was in the original.
Despite not doing anything exceptionally well, there are still some good moments. The clown dolls are creepy, the hands coming out of the ground do work as a jump scare and the comic books rearranging themselves as a house of cards does make you want to curl up. It just can’t sustain it to make it a truly scary film.
The cast do their best, with some decent performances. But the writing is pretty poor. There are too many laughable moments of dialogue that really just shouldn’t be there. The expert that they bring in is a TV host, with a cheesy catchphrase and when he shows up, it’s just cringe inducing. There are a few funny moments, but they aren’t often.
Poltergeist is an okay horror film. It doesn’t have the same timeless feel of the original and is missing a lot of the heart that made the original so great. It passes the time, with some decent scares, but ultimately, it’s a pointless remake.