Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi ("Spiderman," "Evil Dead", "The Grudge") and director Gil Kenan ("Monster House") contemporize the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever.
In the 2015 remake of POLTERGEIST, the Bowens are a family that has unfortunately hit some rough times. Eric has recently been laid off from his John Deere corporate job, and so, he and his wife Amy, a writer, have been forced relocate to a new house and area, more within their new budget. Eric and Amy along with their 3 kids; Kendra, Griffin and Madison find a new place when they acquire an older house, in a seemingly quiet suburban neighborhood. Initially, aside from having to adjust to the downgrade, the Bowens are quite happy with the new place. But it doesn't take long for the feeling to go uneasy. It all starts fairly innocently, as it would appear that young Madison, just 6 years old, has quickly made some new imaginary friends. However, the fact is, that these "friends", are anything but imaginary. Because, in reality they are vengeful spirits with an agenda, who still very much reside in the house. At the beginning, these spirits grab attention, simply by innocent things such as manipulation of electronic devices, and electricity. The Bowens simply write off these things as a characteristic of the old house. But then of course, things escalate, when it is revealed to Eric and Amy that the house in which they now live, was built upon land, formally belonging to a graveyard. And that contractors had just simply moved its former residents to another location. This is the moment where things become increasingly strange for the Bowen family. The spirits eventually begin to move things, and then move on to threatening them with bodily harm. The supernatural disturbances culminate, when the spirits take claim of young Madison, thus pulling her into their astral plane, located somewhere between life and death. In a panic to rescue the child, Eric and Amy call upon, Dr. Brooke Powell, and her team of Paranormal experts, who hope to tap into the other dimension. But when the task seems not to be achieved, they ultimately call on someone with extra credentials, famed Television paranormal expert, and Exorcist, Carrigan Burke. It is when Burke arrives on the scene that the group devises a plan to send someone to the "other side" in order to retrieve Madison from the clutches of evil. So, in goes the middle child, Griffin, who seems to successfully complete the mission. However, as they all would find out, this certain evil, just might be one the can never escape.
Ok, so I am one that sides with folks who believe that it is never a good idea to remake a film, unless the idea can be improved upon in some way. Yes, it's true that some films are so terrible, that they deserve a remake that would right their wrongs. And then there are the films, in whose case, a remake makes absolutely no sense. In that the original was so good, and so well made, why bother remaking it, when you can just go back and watch the original? Well, POLTERGEIST just so happens to be one such film. The original POLTERGEIST from 1982, is simply, in my opinion, one of the greatest Horror films ever made. When I first heard of the news of a remake being made, I felt the same way as I did in 2002, or so, when I heard about the remake of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I just wasn't having it, seeing as the original CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, is my all-time favorite Horror film. But you know what? When I buckled down, and finally saw that remake, it actually wasn't bad. In fact, there were a lot of things that I liked about it. And while, it does not come close to topping the original, I do enjoy it to this day. So, with this in mind, the first time that I webt into this new POLTERGEIST, I was hoping for a similar situation. I was hoping to find something to enjoy. But unfortunately, that just isn't the case for this particular remake.
This film, which was produced by Sam Raimi, takes the structure that we all know from the original, re-works a few things, and polishes the film's look and effects for today's audience, and the results are truly that of an unflattering nature. Gone is the realistic portrayal of the characters, and in their place is the typical portrayal of the Hollywood Horror film family. Unlike the original film, there is never a time here that we ever feel sympathetic for them, especially for the character of Madison. In the original effort, Heather O'Rourke, who was just 5 years old, when she first played "Carol Anne Freeling" in the film, was so good, that we really felt for her. I don't know how they were able to achieve it, but somehow the crew was able to get an honest and relistic performance out of the little girl, one, that drew the audience into the story even more. Here, it is quite the opposite, as young Kandi Clements, fails to really grab our attention. While I certainly can't, and will not fault a 6 year old girl, she just didn't hit us emotionally in the way that she should have. Her performance, as just about everyone else's in the film, feels like mere imitation. Instead of creating an original performance, it seems as though they have Clements attempting to act and speak in the way that O'Rourke did. They even go as far as having the young character repeat phrases and words which she hears, several times during the film, resulting in an ongoing gag,. Yes, they too did this in the original, but in that film, it was a device used sparingly. Here, however, it was the kind of forced cuteness that gets annoying pretty fast. And since I touched on it, I felt about the same way when it comes to every other character in the film. It just feels as though, these new Actors are all apart of some kind of stage production, whom are simply acting out the parts portrayed by others in the original film. As many of the character traits are very similar, it's what the new cast doesn't do with the characters, that takes this film virtually nowhere. Honestly, for the most part, as far as portrayals go, it's like watching the original film play out all over again. A watered-down version at that. I mean, who would opt to watch this version, over the original, which surpasses this update in every way imaginable? It beats me.
Since today's modern film audience is ADHD, this POLTERGEIST believes that the "scary" needs to be upfront - and so, it riddles itself with an abundance of CGI created Horror. Sure, it looks nice, and it's flashy. But it isn't necessary. It turns the film into a gimmick. Some of it, granted, is somewhat effective, but the majority of it is just for show, as it doesn't really achieve anything. It's tired and played out. Yes, in the film, some of the most iconic moments from the original are replicated here(the clown doll, the scary tree outside the window). However this film takes what worked for the 1982 film, and takes it even further via CGI, which ends in results that are much more exaggerated, thus making them less effective. In one of the POLTERGEIST films, Carol Anne learns that sometimes "less is more". The filmmakers certainly should have listened to her. But with all of the things that I disliked about 2015's version of POLTERGEIST, I will give it some credit. There were at least a couple of things that I kind of liked. One, was that I liked how this film approached the aspect of the little girl being trapped within the realm on the other side of the TV, as well as the spirits that were already there. The hands pressing against the TV and all, was definitely a nice touch. Also cool, also, was the part where the Poltergeists, actually pull Madison through the dark portal, located inside of her closet. It's very nice looking, dark imagery. But unfortunately, what it leads to, is something else, far less effective. Once we arrive to the point where Madison is now on the "other side", and Carrigan Burke, and the others go in, in hopes to rescue her, everything else involving that "realm", is not unlike a CGI-heavy video game. In fact, it is truly comparable to the realm known as "The Further" within the INSIDIOUS franchise. While POLTERGEIST does sort of get a pass in that it is technically a remake, if it was not, I definitively believe that it would be cited for being a "rip off" of INSIDIOUS. And while it could be said that INSIDIOUS seems to have been inspired by the original POLTERGEIST in its own right, at least it went with its own path. So, basically, POLTERGEIST is essentially the original POLTERGEIST meets INSIDIOUS in a way. I think had INSIDIOUS not come about, we may have never had this film. At least not in this way.
I still remember the very first time that I saw the original POLTERGEIST. I remember, that despite the film being tame, it really moved me. It was the type of Horror experience I am excited about, long after that initial viewing. It was one that I could not wait to to see again. With this one, however, not so much, as this incarnation did little for me. It feels like one of those mandatory remakes by the studio, and that is essentially what this is. Everything is forced and uninspired. It's a poor rehash of the original film, which, in turn, relies too much on CGI-laden jumps in order to be relevant to its audience.
3/10 While the original film had a really memorable story, with this film, it's quite the opposite. In fact, coming away from the film, I barely remember much about it, aside from it being suspense filled, and atmospheric.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Honestly, I wanted to like this remake, but truth be told, it had a lot to live up to, and unfortunately, it just doesn't cut it. This version of POLTERGEIST is basically a glossed up, effects heavy haunted house film, that has the benefit of having a well known Horror title attached to it. I feel that if this film wasn't called POLTERGEIST, or if it wasn't considered a remake, it wouldn't get nearly the amount of attention that it has received so far. While, I do know that some people will end up enjoying this film for whatever reason, I feel that many will not. And I don't blame them. Sure the film looks nice, and it does have a couple of nice visuals far and in between, but that's about it. My advice? Stick with the original.
Special Features include :
- Extended Cut
- Alternate Ending
- Theatrical Trailers