Catching Up: Poltergeist (2015)
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Hess, Jane Adams, Kyle Catlett, Saxon Sharbino, Kennedi Clements
Have you ever watched a movie that almost completely vanished from your memory, like, thirty minutes after you see it? The new Poltergeist is like that for me. I know I watched it. I’m even looking at the rented DVD as I write these words to you. And yet even though I have only recently finished the movie, I can remember less than 90% of it.
Here’s what I do remember. I remember the central storyline was mostly the same as the original. There’s a family who move into a new home. Dad was no longer a real estate developer, like in the 1982 film. I don’t remember what he did, only that at the beginning of the movie, he was laid off. I remember the climax showed us a lot of the spirit world. The original movie didn’t do this, and was all the better for it. Director Gil Kenan feels the need to show us everything, with some less than convincing special-effects.
I remember thinking that the acting wasn’t very good. Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt star as the parents here. Rockwell seemed bored and annoyed. To look at him, you’d think he were wishing that he were any place else. DeWitt was attractive, but that’s really about it. I remember one sequence where a branch of a tree grabs a little boy, drags him down a hallway and up an attic, and through a sky light. It wasn’t scary. The only reason why I remember it is because it was filmed in a single shot.
I also remember seeing Jared Hess in the movie. He’s playing the Zelda Reubenstein character, an occult specialist and television personality who comes to aid the family in their time of need. He was more memorable in The Quiet Ones. I also remember being surprised by how quickly the movie dished out the exposition involving the whole “cemetery business,” namely that the main character’s home is built on the site of an old cemetery.
Other than that, I got nothing. You mention a movie named Poltergeist to me, and my mind immediately hearkens back to a 1982 gem that had strong characters, striking and scary visuals, and some very well-written passages of dialogue. That movie is just as effective today as it no doubt was back in 1982. More to the point, there was a lot of heart in the way the filmmakers told their story. There was nothing wrong with the way that movie handled the material, so what could a remake possible bring to it that the original didn’t?
Apparently nothing. Poltergeist is a cinematic black hole, and tries to disguise this fact by throwing a whole lot of money at the screen. There’s nothing to connect with here, and nothing to engage your interest. There have been a lot of movies that fit that description, but what’s surprising is how forgettable this movie ends up being. Maybe I should have taken notes to write a more thorough review. Or maybe I should save the paper for a movie that’s at least memorably bad.
More than anything, this new Poltergeist has me thinking about the purpose of remaking classic movies. If it’s to introduce a new generation to such classic material, you could always re-release them in theaters. There have been very few good remakes of already good movies (I did like 2011’s Fright Night very much), but nine times out of ten, it’s like the filmmakers aren’t even trying.
A lot of movie goers have already voiced how annoyed they are with the string of remakes being released, and yet, they keep making money. The more we pay money, the more we encourage studios to keep dishing out these bloody remakes. If this continues, we might soon be seeing a Raiders of the Lost Ark remake with Channing Tatum playing Indiana Jones. Should that day ever come, God save us all.
Rated PG-13 for horror movie scenes and....stuff.
Final Grade: * (out of ****)
Other Thoughts on Poltergeist (2015)! :D
- TheFrightFile Review: Poltergeist (2015) by Dustin Putman
Poltergeist (2015) - 2.5/4 Stars - Inferior though this twenty-first century rendition is, 'Poltergeist' is a respectable thriller when judged on its own merits.
- Poltergeist | 2015 | Film Review | Slant Magazine
Few remakes have been as worthy as Poltergeist for invoking Jacques Derrida's notion of hauntology, where the present attains meaning through a superficial orientation to the past.
- The Films of Gil Kenan - Reviews by David Nusair
- Antagony & Ecstasy: REVISTING THE OLD HAUNTS