‘Poltergeist’ Remake is Stupid, Clichéd Fun

Poltergeist_2015_posterHey, what do you know? A remake that doesn’t totally stink!

A remake/reboot/reimagining of the 1982 classic of the same name, “Poltergeist” stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris and is directed by Gil Kenan. The film follows a family that is haunted by evil spirits, and must save their daughter when she is abducted by them.

If the plot to the film sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Not just because it is quite literally a remake, but also the original “Poltergeist” was so revolutionary that in the past 30 years since its release, dozens of horror films have copied plot points. But despite being stupid and cliché, I kind of dug this remake.

Most modern horror films are PG-13, found footage garbage, and consist more of jump scares and soundtrack explosions rather than genuine tension and frightening moments. So, despite being PG-13 and having its share of jump scares, it was nice to see a scary movie that built on tension rather than special effects or gore. There are some genuinely well-executed moments of tension in “Poltergeist,” brought on my dark shadows and some pretty creepy clown dolls.

Sam Rockwell is one of the actors many people know the face but not the name, but I am a big fan of his. Here he is able to elevate an otherwise cliché and at times pandering script, creating moments of charm while also delivering some emotional bits as a father who just wants his daughter back.

Speaking of said script, like I said, it’s pretty standard scary movie stuff. David Lindsay-Abaire, best known for penning “Oz the Great and Powerful,” has some interesting twists and bits of dialogue, but just as much, if not more, clichés. Oh, the little girl is talking to a wall but it’s actually a spirit? Brilliant! The dad recently lost his job so the family has to move and the haunted house is their only option? Revolutionary!

And of course, while the acting is better than most horror films, the character’s themselves are a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They move towards strange sounds in the dark, or don’t think it’s weird how a wooden stairwell can create static electricity, and you’ll groan every time they ignore the kid who of course knows what is going on.

Despite its clichés, however, I really enjoyed most of the “Poltergeist” remake. It has some great effects and production value in climax (I just reread that; I’m such a movie dork), and the acting and story are interesting enough to keep your attention when ghosts aren’t throwing chairs and flickering lights.

It won’t win any awards, and remains to be seen (or not seen, because ghosts. HA!) whether or not this remake was necessary, but for what it is, that being a 90 minute summer scary movie, “Poltergeist” gets the job done.

Critics Rating: 6/10

Variety

Variety

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