A remake of a classic horror movie, but is it worthy of the name? The short answer is no. The long answer is yes and no. Take away the wonder, mystery, and even the tension that builds up in the original, and that sums up this remake. Spoilers are ahead so caution if you do not like movies being spoiled for you.
We have our family moving into a new home. Our family consists of the husband Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell), the wife Amy Bowen (Rosemarie DeWitt), the teenage daughter Kendra Bowen (Saxon Sharbino), the younger daughter Madison Bowen (Kennedi Clements), and finally the brother Griffin Bowen (Kyle Catlett). They move in and the paranormal activity begins almost immediately. Griffin notices that Madison is talking to something that isn’t imaginary and is quick to tell his parents which of course don’t believe him. Meanwhile we find out that Eric and Amy both don’t have jobs and yet decided it was a good idea to move. Kendra of course is the stereotypical teenager who hates moving and wants to be back with her friends. That night Griffin is put into bed up in the attic bedroom, and complains (which to be fair I would too) that he doesn’t like it up there. A little later he hears a noise from behind a door in his room and like any terrified kid goes to open it. Upon opening it, several clowns drop down and scare him. To make things worse a squirrel comes out for a cheap jump scare.
Eric does come up and freaks out with the son. They deal with it and the father makes a rather jerk move by pretending to be possessed. Then later that night Madison is downstairs by the TV and is talking to it, the brother sees her and asks whats happening. Everyone eventually comes down and she says the famous line, “There here.”
Skip forward to the next day, Kendra is angry at Griffin because she thinks he broke her phone and argues with her parents that it’s essential to life. The father goes out to buy some stuff and upon doing so goes to the mall to buy some things for the family including a new phone for Kendra. I should back up because the previous night she complained to her friend that there was no malls around and yet Eric quite clearly goes to a mall, a rather glaring, albeit minor hole in this story.
To sum it up things go from bad to worse, they call in the paranormal team, call in an exorcist, the rescue the daughter twice, and the house is destroy. They do end off on an amusing note of them getting a new house and leaving upon hearing it has a lot of closets.
I didn’t want to spoil the entire story so I summed up the ending without giving too much away I hope. The main issue is that this movie doesn’t have any build up, any wonder or tension. In the original the ghost’s start out as friendly and then the realization occurs that they aren’t. Instead of it being one big monster controlling the spirits, instead it’s the spirits that are bad. A good 1/3 of this movie is about the family drama happening and honestly shouldn’t be a huge part part of the movie, at least not as much as it was. There were a lot of other nitpicks I could have about the movie such as moving with no job or Kendra getting a phone despite throwing a fit about it, but I digress.
It also ruined the mystery of the ghost realm. They flat out show it, which is cool, but it took away from what people of the original movie had. They had to imagine what it looked like, the fear of being the little girl trapped there. There was some decent tension in some parts of the movie, but a large majority of it wasn’t really scary. There wasn’t a whole lot of build up either. You have a couple scenes of the girl playing with the spirit but that’s it and wasn’t enough to make us think they were friendly. I did question how when the ghosts were attacking, the little girl was in the corner of her room. She saw her brother and instead of getting up and going to him, she sat in the corner. Even ignoring that she then walks after her stuffed animal which was dragged into the closet when quite clearly she knew it was a bad idea. There is a lot more negatives than this but I don’t want to bash the movie into a fiction movie pulp, so surely there is some good right?
The movie did have strong points. The spirit world was cool to see. The children characters were also good for the most part, and I really loved the exorcist as well as he was probably one of the best actors there. The moments that were tense were honestly tense and truly made it feel like a horror movie, but those were few and far in between. I liked the nods to the original and how during the dinner the parents went to they hint at what really happened to the graveyard that the house was built on. But aside from that, there wasn’t much else of note that really stood out as positive.
Honestly this movie doesn’t live up to the name Poltergeist, but then again you have a lot riding on your back when you try to remake a classic. This movie would have been fine on it’s own under a different name, but because it is called Poltergeist, it suffers as a result. I think some of the scenes the original movie had were put in just to meet status quot and had no real reason to be in the movie to begin with. I would recommend if you watch this movie to go in with the mind set this isn’t a Poltergeist movie and you might enjoy it a bit more. I however would still recommend watching the original and deciding for yourself which one you like more as there might be something in the remake you see I don’t. Overall I would say this movie is an average horror flick that you’ll get enjoyment out of watching maybe two or three times before it wears out it’s welcome.