I’m not a movie person who hates remakes; on the contrary, I actually enjoy quite a few remakes. If they bring something new and exciting to the mix, then I’m all game. However, I’ll be honest, I was never too thrilled to hear about the Poltergeist remake that came out in 2015, nor did I ever plan on watching it.
Why, you ask? Well, perhaps it’s because of what the first one means to me. The original Poltergeist (1982) is one of my favorite horror movies of all time and it has such an iconic history. I love the timeless story, the atmosphere, the family, the characters, and all the awesome practical special effects. It’s honestly all I could ask for in a horror movie. Therefore, the remake didn’t appear to bring anything more to table for me so I just brushed it to the side for a long time. That is, of course, until a few weeks ago when a friend wanted to watch it and I decided to go along for the ride, hoping that my thoughts on the 2015 version would change for the better.
Directed by Gil Kenan, the Poltergeist remake had an estimated budget of $35 million dollars and made over $95 million at the box office. Although there are several differences, it does follow along with the same basic story, but this time with a new family. The films stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie Dewitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, and Kennedi Clements as the Bowen family and tells the story of their move into a new house where crazy and bizarre things begin to happen. At first, it all seems harmless. That is until their youngest child goes missing.
Fans new and old raced to theaters to witness this new story and all left with different opinions. Newcomers to the story seemed to like it while people who loved the original movie didn’t enjoy it at all. I personally gave it my best shot, but the movie turned out worse than I originally suspected it would be. I’m not one of those fans who thinks a remake can ruin the original; the 1982 movie still remains epic and untouched. As I watched the remake, I found myself missing the Freelings and the actors who played them, as well as missing the entire atmosphere of the original story. To me, there was really no redeeming qualities in this new film besides maybe one… and that’s a big maybe.
First, the plotline felt rushed and didn’t keep the audience invested in the story. Along with that, the CGI was completely over the top and there was way too much of it. It took away from any scary factor they tried to create and made it almost laughable, but not in a good way. CGI isn’t always a bad thing, but there was just too much and it ruined the feel of some of the iconic scenes from the original.
Secondly, the characters are boring. They don’t even seem like a real family, more so strangers living together in a new house. They had no connection at all. Although Madison (Clements) is adorable and plays the part well, her part in general didn’t sit well with me after the tragedy that happened to Heather O’Rourke, the little girl who played Carol Ann in the first film. Another thing that the movie lacked was an appearance from Zelda Rubinstein. It really can’t be a Poltergeist movie without Zelda; she really helped make the original as awesome as it was. If she had been alive for this movie, I think a guest appearance from her could have really helped it along.
The one thing I did like about this movie was Sam Rockwell’s performance. Sam is a great actor who has starred in many movies such as Galaxy Quest, The Green Mile, Seven Psychopaths, and more. He always delivers an excellent performance and he did the same with his role in the Poltergeist remake. However, even Sam Rockwell couldn’t save this movie. Sorry.
I wouldn’t go as far as to stay that no one should watch the Poltergeist remake. I think the right audience would actually enjoy this story. Some people don’t enjoy the original at all, so maybe they will see something in the remake that I didn’t see. I think die hard fans of the 1982 version are more likely to dislike it, just because it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and seems kind of pointless, but who knows. Overall, I’m still glad I gave it a chance because you never know when a movie is going to surprise you. Maybe next time!