Poltergeist (2015) Review

Once in a while fox will pick a few scripts from the depths of their vaults, stick them to a wall (The Fantastic Four script never leaves this wall) and then throw a dart to see which franchise they can ruin next. The script at the receiving end of their dart this time ….. Poltergeist.

On another wall they have three words: Reboot, Remake and Sequel, so with the secret behind Fox’s strategy exposed, how would this film this time around?

Horror movies have a way of tapping into your biggest fears. Shadows. Clowns. Flickering TV screens. But here’s a helpful spoiler alert: You can watch all the scariest bits of the new Poltergeist in the trailer

You don’t need a review to ruin Poltergeist for you. The filmmakers have done it themselves. And it wouldn’t hurt as much if their names weren’t producer Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Oz the Great and Powerful), director Gil Kenan (Monster House) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Inkheart). Individually, they’ve done some amazing work, but the team effort hasn’t lived up to what it should have been.

Even if the story isn’t new, the real joy or in this case, the real horror lies in the telling. Every good yarn has to have a build-up that eventually leads to the big reveal, even if it is a remake of a story that everyone already knows. The trouble with this new Poltergeist is that the big reveal comes too soon, much before the halfway mark.

Where’s the slow burn? Why didn’t you let me even try to figure it out by myself first? And now what’s the point of the rest of the film? It’s just a light and sound show that says, “Look at what my CGI team can do!”

Poltergeist 2015 is a whole 20 minutes shorter than the original. In hindsight, though, maybe they should have kept those 20 minutes and spent them doing what the original does so well: build up not only the tension, but also each character so that we feel something for them.

For instance, in 1982, the little girl has a bird that dies. She stops her mother from flushing it down the toilet and insists on giving the dead bird a proper burial, which ties in nicely with the whole cemetery theme. In 2015, all we know is she has a favourite stuffed toy, prefers pizza for breakfast, and echoes her siblings’ choicest insults. What does she feel about birds and animals? And does she notice the dead flowers in the lawn?

It’s the same for the little boy. In 1982, we saw his roller skates, Star Wars bedspread and Chewbacca jacket and in a matter of seconds, we knew enough about him to care. In 2015, we see the boy playing an iPad game and although we’re shown he owns big boxes of comic books, we’re never shown which titles. Is he a Marvel fan or dedicated to DC? Superman or Wonderwoman? Why should we care about this kid?

To be fair, there is one scene in this movie that’s been successfully updated for the 21st century. The little girl’s disappeared and the parents are struggling with the decision of calling the police, But other than that, the family is so wooden and one dimensional its just impossible to care for them.

The most wooden of them all is the father, who just makes sarcastic remarks and jokes throughout the film, even after his young daughter is taken, but if he doesn’t show much emotional then why should the audience?

With a production value of 35 million dollars and grossing just over 95 million at the box office worldwide a sequel should be certainty, but with the bad reception surrounding this film Fox studios should just count their blessings they made a profit here and leave it at that.

In an era of Reboots and Remakes this just simply doesn’t do the original justice at all.

So out of a possible five stars, Poltergeist earns:

✪✪

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