To continue the push that sees Hollywood tossing out remakes seemingly faster than anything original, a new version of Poltergeist is being released to the masses. The original is considered to be a classic horror film to just about everyone who’s seen it, so this 2015 version has a lot to live up to. There appeared to be no hope for that from the start, but that’s surprisingly not the reason why many will be as disappointed as I am with it.
Although there are a few changes with the film itself, the story in the 2015 version of Poltergeist is essentially unchanged as we witness a family of five moving into a house in the suburbs. It’s not the best of homes, but they look to make do at first until a wave of horrifying apparitions rise up to terrorize the clan. Things start off small, but quickly escalate as the spirits look to get a hold of Madison (Kennedi Clements), the youngest of Eric (Sam Rockwell) and Amy Bowen’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) three children.
The best parts of Poltergeist are in the earliest portions of the film. We get introduced to the family who’s moving into a new home and get the chance to get to know each of them quite well. This is where someone like Sam Rockwell shines with his effortless comedic approach. I didn’t know if this would be utilized here, but it is, and it’s a welcome addition.
Along with Rockwell providing entertainment, the rest of the cast is also given opportunities to showcase their characters during this period. I found myself liking pretty much everyone here more than I thought I would. Each person has their own personality and their own chance to give us a glimpse into who they are. Together, these guys add quality to the movie as they seem like a legitimate family. However, I can’t say that this is a complete positive when you take into account that this is obviously a horror film and not a wholesome event geared toward families.
Unfortunately, the flaws in this remake begin to show once they establish these people and move toward the elements of horror that we’re here to see. As soon as we get away from the family’s life as a conventional unit, the movie begins to fall apart in some areas. There’s almost nothing featured at this point is even remotely scary, and the vast majority of it isn’t even sensible when looking at how the family reacts to occurrences that would drive normal people to the brink of madness before they knew it.
When analyzing what 2015’s Poltergeist is from the standpoint of horror, you’re looking at something that goes over familiar territory and appears to be as unimpressive as it is commonplace. I’m saying that from both the perspective of it being a remake and from it containing some of the usual build up that we’re used to seeing now when it comes to scary movies predicated on young families unknowingly moving into haunted houses.
I went into this believing that I would be in store for an embarrassingly sad attempt at a film, but I actually left knowing that it underwhelmed me. My disappointment doesn’t come from this unnecessary horror remake being bad. It stems from the fact that I know that it could have actually been better. While this isn’t a good movie, it isn’t a terrible one either. It just lacks the pop and ingenuity necessary to make it worthwhile. There are some solid parts here, but Poltergeist isn’t able to provide an honest source of entertainment for audiences in search of some summertime frights.
Director: Gil Kenan
Film Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: May 22, 2015
Distributor: 20th Century Fox