There has been an exuberant amount of hate for this new version of “Poltergeist,” so when I sat down to watch this movie I had to clear my thoughts and ignore all the negative word of mouth that I have heard over the last few months and go in with an open mind. “Poltergeist” is the 2015 remake of the classic 80’s film of the same name. In this story we have a typical modern American family who moves into a suburban house only to be welcomed by their neighbors. Sam Rockwell plays the father who is recently unemployed, while his wife is trying to cope with raising a family while dealing with her husband’s spending problem. After the family has settled in, strange things start to happen around the house and according to a paranormal investigator, it seems to be the work of a poltergeist. The youngest girl in the film gets taken by the haunting spirits and it’s up to her family to retrieve her from the space in between.
“Poltergeist” was a film that I wasn’t expecting to like at all. My stance on remakes remains the same, however I have found a handful of them to be far superior than the originals. “Poltergeist” does not succeed the original and I don’t think it ever could have. Let’s put it this way. You have a horror film with ghosts and ghouls and a haunted house and creepy clowns and children, set against the 80’s in Southern California and Steven Spielberg is at the helm. There’s no way you could have a film superior to Spielberg’s haunting thrill ride. Taking that into account, this film is going up against a classic horror film that doesn’t come close to surpass it in overall quality. In saying that though, I thought this film was actually kind of fun. A lot of times directors make horror films to scare the living daylights out of people which is fine because I think that’s the whole point with horror films. But some of the best horror movies aren’t necessarily the scary ones but the fun ones. This is a fun movie. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
The film contains all of those classic scenes from the original, being the scary clown toy, to the possessed backyard tree and the ghost hands in the television. This film screams “Poltergeist” and as a remake goes I think it does a pretty good job. The CGI looked really good and some of the scenes were classic throwbacks to the original film. They even threw in the famous line, “They’re here,” before the girl gets taken by the poltergeist. The film doesn’t add anything new to the story but I was ok with that. Was this a scary film? Absolutely not! You know everything that’s coming if you have seen the original. The plot is predictable and the frights come at moments where you would expect them. But this was a zany, loopy and delightful look at a more modern version of the original film.
A lot of people complained that this movie didn’t deliver because there weren’t any scares. I think that is a little unfair for one specific reason. When the original “Poltergeist” film came out, it was fresh and no one had ever seen anything like that before. Over the last two decades there have been countless ghost story movies that have all taken from “Poltergeist” so as an audience we have become so desensitized by the genre. “Paranormal Activity” was a good way to reinvigorate the genre but again, after they made more of those “Paranormal” films they got old. We have seen it all before. But even if we have seen it, it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy it. Movies today are very clichéd, but they can work if the film plays to the best part of those clichés. And I think “Poltergeist” did that, for me anyway. I enjoyed the film so much that I wanted to go back and watch the original again.
“Poltergeist” is a well made, well constructed remake of Spielberg’s classic ghost tale and while it may lack the scares and originality of the original, there is no doubt that this movie is fun and entertaining as hell. If you like the more campy, fun-styled horror films then this might be a perfect fit for you. I can’t say this is even close to the original, but as a film on its own I think it works as a worthy entry into a tired genre.