I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a little disappointed with this film. That might be because I hyped myself over this film due to the trailer being so awesome. However, I think a lot of it was because…well, it was a bad film. Not kidding. There was a little girl in the audience, I thought she was brave for coming to see this. She didn’t need to be brave. It just wasn’t scary.
I should’ve known a Poltergeist remake wouldn’t be good.
We all know the story, so I don’t think anyone will mind if I spoil this movie. If you don’t know the Poltergeist story, then spoilers ahead, and I wonder what rock you’ve been living under. Basically the filmmakers decided that since almost everyone knows the story about a family moving into a haunted house and the cute, innocent kid being abducted by the dead and her family having to go after her, they’d just update it for 2015, change some minor details, and throw the mythology at the audience, who will hopefully find it scary. Really, they would’ve done better going in a new direction, which Insidious did with a new mythology and some slight twists on the familiar formula, adding atmosphere, mystery, and surprise to scare us to death.
Here, like I said, they just throw the mythology at the audience. We’re drowned in it so that we aren’t scared at all and the moments that actually halfway close to being scary were either included in the trailer and don’t have the same impact, or the sense of danger is just not there. For instance, there’s a moment with a power drill that could’ve been very scary, but the way it’s done you just know things will turn out fine before it does.
The thing about the original Poltergeist was that it took its time. It slowly built up the strangeness and horror and helped us wade into a mythology that would be expanded in the later two films. Here, the filmmakers are so concerned about paying homage to the original film that they rush us into it and pay homage to all that made the original scary in ways that just don’t terrify. “Look here!” “Here’s this reference!” That’s literally what they do.
Another thing is the humor in this movie. They try and insert humor at various times in the movie, and while humor in horror does help in some horror stories in-between terrifying moments, the ones here are all at the wrong places and seemed forced. They’re only barely funny. I think they would’ve done better not to insert humor at all the wrong places and instead try and expand on the character development of these barely-developed characters. Maybe show how the dad is trying to be a good provider even though he’s jobless and refuses to allow his wife to get a job and then show how he fixes that?
Also, why does the the little boy have a sink in his attic bedroom? There’s no bathroom up there, so why’s there a sink? Is it an unfinished bathroom or something? And I don’t care how much wiggle room there is on a house in a neighborhood with plenty of foreclosures and that was built on a cemetery. You don’t buy a freaking huge house like that when you have no steady income! Move into an apartment until you can find something better! You’ll avoid the ghosts too!
There are some good points to this film though. The few variations they make from the original are inventive and interesting, and the scene in the afterlife is much more visually interesting and creepy than the weird green screen effect they had in 1986’s Poltergeist II. And I like how the movie incorporates the ghost-hunting field and how some ghost hunters have become famous through reality TV. As a fan of some of those shows, I had a little laugh at that. Plus I don’t think this version has a curse on it (unless the curse either left the movie alone because it was so bad or it made the movie bad, in which case it’s a very intelligent curse we’ve got here).*
But other than that, not much going for this film. Even the “They’re here” falls flat where it should soar, which is just sad. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the Poltergeist remake a failing grade of 1.4. It’s almost as bad as the Friday the 13th remake. Almost as bad. Poltergeist wasn’t ruined by Michael Bay, and it didn’t use sex to try and utterly fail to liven things up (which is good, because two of the main female characters are under the age of 18).
All for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m signing off for the night. Let’s hope I find a good horror film next time around. I’ve gotten so many duds lately.
*If you didn’t know, the original Poltergeist is supposedly cursed because during one scene it cost too much to make fake skeletons and instead they used real ones dug up from actual graves. Between the first and third films, several members of the cast and others associated with the film died strange and/or violent deaths. Well, if you let monetary considerations overshadow your respect for the dead, you have to expect some sort of karmic backlash. Too bad it came down on the ones who didn’t deserve it.