Directed By: Gil Kenan
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kennedi Clements
It seems like barely 6 months goes by without Hollywood churning out yet another horror remake. This time it’s the turn of the notorious 1982 horror classic The Poltergeist.
The original Poltergeist became notorious for being America’s scariest PG movie of all time, that and for being continuously miscredited as being directed by Steven Spielberg, who in fact produced the movie with Tobe Hooper directing.
The set-up for the remake is pretty much the same as the original- a family moves into a new home only to be tortured by spirits who occupy their electrical system and eventually lore their daughter into the television.
This time around the family are a cash strapped bunch headed up by Sam Rockwell’s Eric who have moved house because they need to downgrade. Their son, Griffin, is a nervous young boy who is constantly scared of things going bump in the night, so it doesn’t help when the family decide to make him sleep in the attic. The daughter, Maddy, played by Kennedi Clements is a dough eyed innocent little girl who, upon moving into the home begins to forge a relationship with some seemingly imaginary friends.
So far, so good and for the opening half an hour the movie does an effective job of introducing us to the family and letting us know their back ground. Rockwell is great as always whilst young Kennedi Clements nails her performance. The film however begins to hit a stumbling block after its opening act.
Some severe pacing issues mean the film jumps from a slow steady opening act which takes time to build up tension to a jumbled second act that sees things escalate incredibly quickly. In the course of one scene we watch the film jump from having a few lights flickering to a giant killer tree breaking its way through the house unannounced. This lack of suspense makes the movie almost laughable at times and it is when the movie tries to stand on its own two feet, as opposed to staying loyal to the original material that it begins to tumble over.
With the original Poltergeist having been such an iconic and influential film which has been ripped off countless times over the year the final act of this film likes a greatest hits of every haunted house movie from the last 20 years. Jared Harris tears up the scenery as the Irish priest brought into save the day and provides the film with some comic moments whilst the team of paranormal investigators brought in to help the situation are nearly as irritating as their Insidious counterparts, though one of them has a nice Evil Dead inspired scene involving an electric drill.
The Poltergeist remake was better than some of the horror remakes we have seen in the last few years and wasn’t the disaster it could have been, but that really is damning with faint praise if ever I’ve seen it. Rockwell and Harris provide the movie with some of the its finer moments but you’re much better off digging out the original.
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