Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on/Remake of: Poltergeist
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Jane Adams, Susan Heyward, Nicholas Braun
Seen on: 3.6.2015
The Bowens move into a new home and quickly realize that there are strange occurrences in their house. At first it’s only the family’s youngest children Maddie (Kennedi Clements) and Griffin (Kyle Catlett) who experience it, although older daughter Kendra’s (Saxon Sharbino) phone keeps acting up as well. When Maddie goes missing inside their house – and can still be heard on the TV, talking to them, father Eric (Sam Rockwell) and mother Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) start looking for help. Since their circumstances are extraordinary, they have to seek extraordinary help.
Poltergeist was surprisingly inoffensive. I thought that it would very likely make a mockery of the original film. But in fact, it’s not bad – it’s just not as good or charming as the original, making you wonder why they would remake it at all.
Obvioulsy they thought that it was time for a general overhaul of the original film – and considering the dated special effects, that is not entirely untrue. Unfortunately part of that overhaul was that they desperately tried to up the stakes. There isnt’ just one clown, there is an entire box of them. They don’t just try to get at Maddie, everybody is in danger – including Kendra (in the original film it is most interesting that the teenage daughter the Freelings have just basically runs off and stays with a friend for the entire film – a smart way to get somebody out of danger) or the hired parapsychologists.
But more stakes and more people in danger doesn’t necessarily mean higher stakes or more emotional investment in those stakes. And that is one of the film’s major problems: the Bowens just aren’t as charming as the Freelings. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them and I didn’t want them to come to harm, but I just wasn’t as involved in their story as in the Freelings’ fate.
Part of that might have been that the focus shifted very much away from the mother and the young daughter and over to the father and the son. Generally the men were much more at the center of the film, also by having Zelda Rubinstein’s role go to Jared Harris (who was hilarious, that is not a criticism of his performance), whose character effectively swallowed the parapsychologist prof by way of romance, and that did annoy me. Also, it just didn’t feel like Eric and Amy (who just wasn’t as competent and cool as in the original) were that much of a team.
That being said it is mostly the comparison with the old film that makes Poltergeist weak. In its own right, it is not a bad film at all, although I wouldn’t call it great or very good. It just couldn’t add anything to the original – and leaves you wondering whether you wouldn’t have been better off just watching that again, instead of the new one – for all that I love Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt.