Poltergeist (2015)

Poltergeist (2015)
  • Time: 93 min
  • Genre: Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Gil Kenan
  • Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements


Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi and director Gil Kenan reimagine and contemporize the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and take the youngest daughter, the family must come together to rescue her.


  • Quickie Review:

    A family looking for a new beginning moves into a suburban home. Evil forces take control of the house, threatening the lives of the inhabitants. When the youngest daughter is abducted by evil spirits, the family must come together to find a way to rescue her. The Poltergeist is the least scary movie in recent times. This remake offers nothing new and repeats the clichés originally set by the 1980s Poltergeist. The acting overall is decent, and Sam Rockwell did liven up the movie with his charm. Yet performances alone could not save this disaster of a horror film, bursting at the seams with mediocre CGI. Skip this one.

    Full Review:

    As a horror fan, I am ever hopeful to find a good scare once in a while to get my heart pumping. I guess I like being kept awake at night fearing things that don’t exist. Well The Poltergeist, got me to do the exact opposite, go to bed like little baby and enjoy a long hibernation.

    Before I get all ranty, I should mention the good aspect of the movie, the performances. The parents played by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt had believable chemistry with each other and the children. Sam Rockwell is awesome as always, bringing in his own personality to the character. That helped with bringing some levity into the movie so we aren’t drowning in over-dramatic tension. Even the child actors were decent. Sure one of them was the clichéd child talking to ghosts, but there was also another kid who reacted to anomalies like a real human pre-teen would react: scared out of his freaking mind! So at least the characters were mostly relatable.

    If you want the definition of a bad horror movie, actually even worse, a bad horror remake then look no further. Remakes should be made to capture the spirit (pun intended) of the original while trying to do something new. This movie is exactly the same as the original. Moreover, the original is a classic because it did something new for that time. It did it so well that other horror movies started to copy the 80s Poltergeist. So when you film a remake without making any significant changes, not only is it bland because it is a copy of the original, it’s boring because it’s rehashes all the horror clichés that have propagated since the 80s. So much so that I knew exactly when and where the next scare was coming from. The only thing new about the movie is the use of computer generated ghouls, and they couldn’t even get that right. The quality of the CGI was poor to begin with, but there is such over-reliance on them that it progressively gets worse. Eventually they are all an amalgamation of random mediocre video game creatures that you don’t care about because nothing feels real. So the one new thing they tried drained all the horror out of the movie.

    Fans of the original classic will hate this movie, horror fans will hate this movie, so I don’t who they are trying to target this movie towards. Sure the performance of the actors were good, but the overflow of horror clichés and crappy CGI is too much to bear. Worst of all, it was not scary.

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  • Over the past few years, I’ve seen dreadful, horror film remakes in A Nightmare On Elm Street, Carrie, and Evil Dead. 2015’s Poltergeist (my latest review) continues this trend of mediocrity, of unnecessity. But here’s the rub. It’s far more awful than the vehicles just mentioned. In fact, this is the worst re-imagining of any cinematic endeavor that I’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing. Director Gil Kenan sticks to the basic blueprint of 1982’s original only to not respect nor honor anything that made it emotionally (not to mention eerily) effective. Gone this time around is the creepy, lullaby-themed music. Gone is the Spielbergian virtues. Gone is the devastating pool scene where actual human skeletons pop up (I’m not kidding). Gone is the disgusting face peeling sequence. Gone is the everyman, suburban California landscape where doofus adults ride tyke bikes and spill beer all over the place (the setting is replaced by the state of Illinois, boring). Gone is the hip, pot smoking couple that was charismatically played by JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson (the hubby and wife from the new version drink instead, also boring). And gone are the scares cause there ain’t any of em’. In truth, I almost wanna call this Poltergeist reboot borderline comedic. The tagline back then was “they’re here”. The tagline this time around is “they’re out to lunch”.

    Basing its proposition on a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, 2015’s version has a running time that is fairly shorter than the original. That doesn’t however, make it any leaner, meaner, or tighter. This is truly perfunctory filmmaking in rough draft form. Nothing contained is out of the box or in a sense, updated (except for the aspect of today’s technology being cell phones, iPads, and glossed over CGI). Yes the 1982 relic didn’t have a whole lot of buildup while containing a few plot holes along the way. It did though, scare the bejesus out of you. Now we cut to 2015 and it takes about 20 minutes (I checked my watch) for evil forces to start their habitual haunting. The way the newer version is supposed to frighten you (it didn’t at all frighten me) is to provide systematic jolts. You don’t feel as if you’re watching a haunted house movie though. It just feels like you’re walking through an actual haunted house or funhouse. You can sense the adage of ghosts and specters coming out from around the corner to yell “boo”. You can also tell that every scare tactic hits its mark with some stage hand pulling a lever or two at approximately the right moments. Mindless? Yup. Laugh inducing? You betcha. Oh and I almost forgot, there’s the place where the family of the new version inhabits. In the original Poltergeist, everyone lived in a middle to upper class domain deemed modernized and relegated to suburbanite suture. In this luckless reboot, the residential area seems haunted right off the bat, like someone died there or some serious ruckus went down. If I was a realtor showing said dormant abode, I’d be ashamed of myself.

    Now with this new version of Poltergeist, comes the changing of the character’s names, the location, and the ending which is anti-climatic in the highest regime. What is possessed here is a hack job, a rushed production, and something that would have Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg laughing their butts off if they ever decided to attend a screening. The plot follows the same notes as what went down over thirty years ago. Only this time, the family featured, don’t have jobs, an income, or one iota of self-esteem. The question I asked myself was, are we supposed to feel sympathy or an aura of despair for these people? I’m thinking no. The script idea in question, probably only looked good on paper. The Freeling family from 82′ were more likable and consisted of better actors/actresses. And they didn’t come off as losers looking for a shoulder to cry on. Anyway, the new clan (the Bowens) consist of Eric Bowen (played by Sam Rockwell who is too talented to star in this muck), Amy Bowen (played by Rosemarie Dewitt), Kendra Bowen (played by Saxon Sharbino), Griffin Bowen (played by Kyle Catlett), and Madison Bowen (played by Kennedi Clements who sounds like the late Heather O’Rourke, looks kind of like Heather O’Rourke, but can’t quite deliver her lines in the same, effective realm as Heather O’Rourke). They move into a rundown house (to scrape by) not knowing of the wicked entity hidden underneath the ground (in the form of graves with the gravestones missing). As the proceedings move along in a hasty, inadequate fashion, the “poltergeists” steal young Madison away because she can quote unquote, “lead them into the light and get them out of purgatory.” That’s when the Bowen family calls in psychic extraordinaire, Carrigan Burke (played by Jared Harris). He has his own TV show but now he’s got actual, hard up demons to deal with. If you’ve viewed the original, you’ll get an idea of what happens next. Young Madison is trapped in a flat screen, a rope is used, and paranormal investigators are staked out in GPS fashion. By this time, I was more interested in catching Ghost Adventures on high-definition.

    Of note: If you are wondering about the middle child (a young boy) getting swallowed up by a tree (like in the original), well it doesn’t really happen. Very tension-free. And if you are figuring if the same boy (Griffin) gets manhandled by a clown, well it comes off as filler. Give me the velvet clown from 82′ any day compared to this goofish, wooden puppet. In truth, I wanted to exit the theater during this moment. Unfortunately, it’s something I said I would never do.

    In conclusion, if you’ve never ever seen a horror flick before, you’d still not get goosebumps or chills from the 2015 version of Poltergeist. I feel the only reason why this thing ever got greenlighted, was to generate profit. The filmmakers and the studios could sucker a new generation of fans into ponying up hard earned dollars. This would be to experience a mere sterilized revamping of a classic. In hindsight, the word poltergeist means a ghost or other supernatural being responsible for physical disturbances such as loud noises and objects thrown around. This current release only softens that notion and is not worthy of the title.

    Rating: 1 out of 4 stars

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