Remakes are always tricky. They either work, or they don’t. Unfortunately, Poltergeist, the remake of the 80s classic horror flick, falls in the latter category.
For the unfamiliar with the original Poltergeist, the movie tells the story of a family as they move to a house that’s possessed by not just a ghost, but a poltergeist. That poltergeist ends up abducting the youngest daughter, Madison (Kennedi Clements), so the family brings in a parapsychologist (Jared Harris) who’s the only person able to stop the angry spirit.
Poltergeist’s first major flaw is the characters whose story it chose to tell. The Bowens are, in every way, the cliché family of every movie: the unemployed father, the bitchy daughter, the scared little boy and the innocent little girl. Writer David Lindsay-Abaire didn’t even bother to creatively develop them in an even slightly different way than what audiences had already seen countless times before.
Even the story wasn’t something original. From what’s been mentioned above, it’s clear that the remake is nothing more than just another modern day horror movie relying on customary cheap jump scares to please fans of the genre.
What also doesn’t work about Poltergeist is its run-time and, moreover, its pace. When a movie chooses to run over nothing more than ninety minutes, viewers expect it to cut right into the action. In this case, the action was delayed far too long – in order to integrate those jump scares – that it ended just when it first hooked its audience. So, by the time Poltergeist ended, no one was actually satisfied with what was thrown their way.
The film, however, does have a couple of elements that save it from being a horrible horror flick. Director Gil Kenan does breathe life into his movie by crafting the best result using the few assets he was given, like the lovable cast. Despite the cliché characters, Sam Rockwell and the rest who played members of the Bowen family indeed weren’t half-bad to watch. Jared Harris, on the other hand, was an absolute delight, but his character was ruined by too little screen time and from being the film’s comic relief, a shame, again, due to bad writing.
All in all, the Poltergeist remake is fun, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the horror flick equation. It had some good elements, but the majority did not really make the grade. It’s an easily forgettable and unnecessary remake.