Unnecessary remakes can be a real pain in the ass. That’s certainly the case in the horror genre. Rarely are they demanded or, if they’re to be made, it almost always ends up on the disappointing side of things. Who was jumping up and down to see a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street? What about The Thing? The Blob (which is in production now)? How about The Fog? Exactly. And I don’t want to sound too cocky, but I’m pretty sure the same can be said for Poltergeist. I haven’t even seen the original all the way through so a remake wasn’t on my radar whatsoever. Yet here we are with a review of it.
Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt play Eric and Amy Bowen who have moved in to a new home with their two daughters and son. Eric is unemployed while Amy has been at home taking care of the family while never finding the time to write her novel. So when they come across a great deal, they can’t pass it up. Who cares if it’s sitting right on top of a cemetery. In their defense, they did not know that at first. For some reason the real estate agent left that part out.
It does not take long for the house to start performing some tricks: moving items, flickering lights, shutting doors. Yet all hell breaks loose once the youngest daughter, Maddie (Kennedi Clements), talks to their TV and puts her hand on it with something putting their hand on hers from the other side. There aren’t too many unsettling moments in this movie, but her turning to the rest of the family right after and saying “They’re here” is one of them. Soon she is taken and her family practically does not even question it and quickly accepts it and moves on. A cavalry of paranormal experts are called in to go in to the darkness and find the Bowens’ baby girl.
Director Gil Kenan doesn’t ruin what Poltergeist is and represents, instead it just leaves us wondering why try to bring it back to life in the first place. Like I said earlier, I have never seen all of the original and I’m sure it was terrifying back in 1982, but this reboot leaves scares out completely. The effects are tremendous, but are too heavily relied on. But what hurts the most is the rapidness of the story that leaves all characters empty with emotion and depth. Perhaps the biggest star of the entire movie is the house itself and besides one traumatic scene, the camera pays no attention to it. The atmosphere is almost as lifeless as the dead folks in the TV.
If there’s a light in the hollowness of Poltergeist 2015, it’s the first-rate performances of DeWitt and Rockwell. DeWitt is a strong force as the mother. Obviously, her role plays a significant part, and she is committed to making Amy genuine but sturdy. With that said, no one does it like Rockwell. At first, his character is dealing with the stress of losing his job and not being able to provide for his family. He is just too proud to admit their financial status is suffering. However, once his daughter goes missing, Eric becomes a different man and Rockwell kicks in to full-force. Plus, he delivers some much needed humor. You can never go wrong with his undeniable talent and charisma.
It’s safe to say a lot of movies should be left alone. Here is another example where you question its very existence. This Poltergeist is somewhere stuck in the middle of harmless and uninspiring with no attempt to create something new for itself. But hey, there’s always Sam Rockwell to entertain us.