The popular practice of remaking movies, all kinda of movies, has proven to be more than a fad. That’s unfortunate. There doesn’t seem to be movie that modern filmmakers won’t try to remake. The horror genre has been particularly fond of this fairly unoriginal practice. “Halloween”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, and “Friday the 13th” are just some to receive a modern (and inferior) redo. So why not “Poltergeist”?
Normally I would automatically dismiss a movie like this but several things intrigued me, namely an interesting trailer, Sam Raimi’s attachment as co-producer, and the casting of the always likable Sam Rockwell. Unfortunately the movie itself isn’t nearly as intriguing as the trailer. Raimi’s fingerprints are nowhere to be found. Rockwell feels terribly out of place.
After losing his job Eric (Rockwell) and wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) are forced to move their three children to a more affordable home. Unfortunately they pick a housing development built on an old cemetery. Talk about a terrible idea. Soon the family begins to notice a series a spooky occurances, many linked to the house’s lights and electronics. Obviously in the age of flat screens, tablets, and iPhones that is a bad thing.
But things get dramatically worse and even more unexplainable. Unable to go to the cops, the family seeks help from paranormal specialists who discover the house is haunted by angry and violent poltergeists. The bumps come more often, the screams get louder, and ultimately the danger escalates as Eric and Amy try to protect and save their children.
Minus a couple of the performances, there is nothing inherently awful about “Poltergeist”. But at the same time there is nothing new, unique, or innovative to make it stand out from the run-of-the-mill horror flicks we get by the dozens. In fact its greatest sin may be its blandness. Much like the majority of the modern PG-13 horror flicks, “Poltergeist” plays it safe and depends on too many traditional and predictable scares. I never jumped, squirmed, or was caught off guard.
So I’m left with a question I have asked numerous times. Why did we need a “Poltergeist” remake? This version is very swift and easy to watch. It has some good moments and there are a few fun nostalgic winks. But it doesn’t do anything new or exciting. It follows the same tired blueprint and fails to capitalize on its potential. Even though it’s not a bad movie, it’s not one that you will ever remember past its first viewing. That’s a shame.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS