Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Ghost House Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment,

Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements

The Bowen Family has moved into a new home. Times are rough for them as Eric (Sam Rockwell) has been laid off and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a writer who hasn’t written anything new recently. They have three children. Very soon strange things start happening in this haunted house, and the youngest daughter is carried away into another dimension. Things get worse, so they call in a paranormal investigator from TV along with a professional psychic to help get their daughter back and find a way to get out of the house. This is a reboot (remake) of the original 1984 Stephen Speilberg classic film of the same name.

When people try to remake a movie, there are really two paths that they try to take. Either it’s a true to the original scene for scene remake or it’s a completely different take on the story that is sometimes not even a resemblance of the original. This one is somewhere in the middle. Certainly the names have been changed and the story is a lot different in a few ways, but not so different that you don’t know exactly what’s coming. Things like the girl hearing voices in the TV and the rope from the closet that ends up in the middle of the ceiling downstairs are exactly the same. The child eating tree is here as is a lot of other things. The house is even similar looking. I tried really hard to find out if there was a relationship to the first film, and other than a dinner party where someone mentions a relative of his lived in that neighborhood that was built over an abandoned cemetery. But it’s never really clear if there is anything to that or not. That was odd the way they handled that scene as it didn’t give you any conclusion to come to. So how does this compare to the original. Well, in my opinion it’s not even close. Certainly the actors in the first were much more compelling. This one is a bit like cardboard cutouts of the original. The other thing is that it’s certainly been updated to modern technologies, so we’re dealing with a flat screen TV this time, along with iPads and laptops and smart phones. The cast is not nearly as likeable as the first. It’s as if they’re trying to make us dislike them right from the start. It’s hard to feel sorry for them when all but the youngest are really unlikable. Stephen Speilberg, in an interview, once explained that the movie ET was his dream about alien life and promise for a better future, and Poltergeist was his nightmare. Nightmare it is. The new technology special effects are really eye popping, and the 3-D does add a little to the enjoyment, although it’s not really that well done. I got the feeling that I was a looking into a little box that was the screen and everything in the box was in 3-D, but nothing came out towards us or outside the 3rd wall which was the surface of the screen. It was kind of weird that way. Also, there are some scary moments that scare the heck out of you. It’s pretty creepy. But when you remember the 1984 original, this will still pale in comparison to the original chills. Poltergeist 1984 was one of the scariest horror films of that time. This one is not nearly as memorable as that first one which nailed the paranormal in a way that every film since then has drawn upon. But I think there is a good audience for this film, and a lot of reasons to watch it. First, of course, there are millions of teenagers who have never seen the original and who do not share the experience of the first time we saw that. These are the ticket buyers for this kind of film, and it will be fresh and new to them, and the updated technology will make more sense to them that the 1980’s time frame. Secondly, those of us who do recall the original fondly, will be apt to want to see this just to compare and reflect on the terrible nightmares the first one gave us back then. That’s all good, and worth the effort. This is a short film, only 90 minutes, and so it feels a bit rushed, but that’s OK. The thing to be aware of though is that once you watch this, you’ll be strongly driven to look back to the first one again, as though this film is good enough, it’s not as satisfying as the original film was.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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