As most horror movie fans would know, 1982’s “Poltergeist” is one of the most successful horror films ever made in history. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards, the original film is believed to have been cursed as 4 of the “Poltergeist” trilogy’s actors passed within 6 years of the first movie.
Anyone who has seen the original film would agree that until today, 30 over years since its release, the voice of young Carol Anne Freeling (played by the late child star Heather O’Rourke) announcing the arrival of the angry spirits “They’re here”, is still able to send chills down one’s spine and scare the bejesus out of anyone. Given that it is such an iconic movie, I was thrilled when it was announced that the movie was receiving a remake.
The remake saw legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi, best known for his work on “The Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man” and director Gil Kenan teamed up to rework the classic tale about the Bowen family. Thanks to our buddies at Twentieth Century Fox Film (Malaya) Sdn.Berhad, I had the pleasure of watching “Poltergeist” during the premiere screening on Friday (June 18th).
Now, if you had watched the original film, you would know that the movie focused on the Bowens, a struggling family that unknowingly moved into a house that was built on burial grounds. The tight-knit family of five was terrorised by angry ghouls whose graves laid beneath the neighbourhood. When the terrifying apparitions up their attacks and held the youngest daughter captive, the Bowens must figure out a way to bring her back before she disappears forever.
Now that we’ve got the basic plot out of the way, I’m going to jump straight into the review. “Poltergeist” sees Sam Rockwell shines as Eric Bowen, a suburban dad who recently got laid off from his job with his wife Amy (played by Rosemarie DeWitt), an unsuccessful writer who also takes on the role as a homemaker moving into a new home with their three children.
The kids, Kendra (played by Saxon Sharbino), Griffin (played by Kyle Catlett) and Madison (played by Kennedi Clements) are constantly chained to their phones and remote-controlled drones – fitting the way kids are behaving these days, with the ever-changing and development of technology. Also, Carol Anne Freeling’s name has been changed to Madison, which is honestly a more common and relatable name.
The best thing about the new “Poltergeist” was that it went straight to the point. Unlike other recent horror movies which beat around the bush, “Poltergeist” jumped right into action. It didn’t take too long before the kids were being attacked by demonic clown dolls, Madison being attracted to a malfunctioning TV and soon after, she was kidnapped by the evil and angry spirits of the house. From here, the Bowens seek help from paranormal academician Dr. Brooke Powell (played by Jane Adams) and her team of ghost busters before calling on the renowned medium Carrigan Burke (played by Jared Harris) to rescue little Maddy.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem about the remake is that, it’s really not that scary. I loved the chemistry between the casts, the whole play on technology and it being in 3D made it very easy to relate to but it felt like I was watching a sci-fi flick instead of a horror flick. Sure, the scenes with the clowns scared the crap out of me but that’s probably because I’m afraid of clowns in general and it really wasn’t enough to make up for a movie that was 93 minutes long.
As a horror movie fan, I must say that despite Sam Raimi and Gil Kenan’s best efforts, the new “Poltergeist” does not hit the spot and will not pass for a great horror movie. It was entertaining yes, but it wasn’t scary, not the least bit.
Then again, don’t just take my word for it. Be sure to catch it while you can.
Watch the trailer here:
“Poltergeist” is currently showing in a cinema near you.