Thursday, October 29, 2015

31 Days of Horror- Day 29: Poltergeist (2015)

(dir. Gil Kenan)

20th Century Fox
* First time viewing

A family moves into a house built on top of a graveyard and supernatural events ensue.

I like Tobe Hooper’s (*cough Steven Spielberg’s cough*) Poltergeist, but I don’t see it as the untouchable classic that many do, and while it has some very cool scenes, I don’t find it a frightening movie for adults. So in comes new the Poltergeist remake, which everyone lambasted from being PG-13 even though the original was PG, and it’s basically the same as the original, which means its target audience is younger viewers. Kenan’s Poltergeist basically follows the first film beat for beat (with the added topical stress of the recession.) The family members have different names, but most of the dynamics remain the same, as does the youngest daughter’s disappearance into the beyond, and her family’s team-up with paranormal investigators to bring her back. It may all be pretty standard stuff, but none of the actors phone it in, and Sam Rockwell’s rascally charm adds some necessary character to the film.

Despite the Poltergeist’s lack of ambition or surprises, it’s a decent, if bland, remake.  Some of the horror elements, one involving a clown doll and another involving a power drill are pretty good for kid’s stuff. The biggest issue comes from the poor CGI which makes the entire film look overproduced and occasionally comical. But there are some design elements in the third act representation of purgatory that serve of reminders of what the film could have been if it had carved its own path.

Scare Factor: 1/5 Poltergeist is not the horrible travesty you may have heard about. It treads the middle-ground of safe and familiar, and for those who haven’t seen the original yet, it may even be a bit interesting. While it’s not memorable, or worth revisiting in favor of the original, for a film that presents itself as a family horror-adventure, it’s just fine. 

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