Movie Review: Poltergeist (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: POLTERGEIST (2015)

_grd01.086401L - A child’s’ toy takes on terrifying dimensions when apparitions invade a family’s home.

Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemary DeWitt, Jared Harris, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Saxon Sharbino,

Warning: spoilers ahead

I confess: I didn’t know Poltergeist was being remade. Once I knew, I was skeptical, because Hollywood has recently been in the business of remakes – with some awful results.

The premise of this version of Poltergeist isn’t far from the original, aside from updating the story to make the family relatable to today’s North American middle class. The family lives in a seemingly nice house, the family gets the creeps (thanks to some angry souls), and the family needs help when one of their own disappears because of said creepy events.

 

Writing
David Lindsay-Abaire’s effort is okay. Pacing wise, I was disappointed how quickly we wandered into the family’s plight. Not sure if these writers were working on time restrictions for scenes, but that’s what it felt like with a bare bones lead up to all hell breaking loose. If the humour wasn’t ad-libbed, it was written well.
The problem with this movie: well, it’s marketed to be a scary movie. The scares were too typical; every clichéd bump-in-the-night moment was there. The presence of clowns were the closest thing to scary in that movie.

 

Acting
The Bowen parents – mom Amy (Rosemary DeWitt) and dad Eric (Sam Rockwell) – make you empathize with today’s struggling family. Sam Rockwell had some funny moments. I was underwhelmed by Saxon Sharbino’s Kendra (the eldest daughter), who was too stereotypical angsty teen for me.
I loved Jared Harris and Jane Adams. I’m more familiar with Harris in comedic roles (I saw him in Mr. Deeds with Adam Sandler, and he was the only character who made me laugh), and I could take him seriously as Carrington Burke, legendary spirit hunter. Jane Adams’ character, Dr. Brooke Powell, was a good voice of reason.
I’m not sure if it was the writing, or the acting, but the Griffin Bowen character (Kyle Catlett) felt too much like a kid from a Pull Ups commercial. He had his moments, but felt a little too innocent – and too scared. That’s problematic, especially when you already have Madison Bowen (Kennedi Clements) who is supposed to be the innocent and most frightened. The two seemed equally scared and I felt it took away from Madison.
Aside from that, Kennedi Clements’ Madison was on point: cute and charming.

 

Effects
I’m on the fence. I liked the dreamy look of the trapped souls. Interesting ways of tracking the family and the poltergeists, like incorporating drones and GPS technology. There were some unnecessary effects. The squirrel darting out from dozens of clown toys was freakier than the same squirrel in a (humane cage) trap with fake red eyes. Also, why did I watch this in 3D? I didn’t get anything out of it.

 

Summing it up
Watch it if you’re a fan of scary movies, but I wouldn’t have cried if I didn’t see this in theatres. Don’t see it in 3D. It’s probably worth watching it on a half off night, or renting when it comes out on demand. While there was an effort to make it fresh with a few neat ways to track the ghosts, that’s sadly as far as it went for contributing anything new to the genre.

 

The Verdict
Three stars out of five.

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