I’m not sure whether to compare this film to the original because the premise is similar, or am I evaluating it on its own, with a modern version of the plot? When I first heard that they were going to remake Poltergeist, my first question is…..why? As you all know my stand on remakes, reinventions, and re-imaginations, my reaction to this announcement was sudden nausea, screaming at my computer, and then I calmed down. I have to look at this with a cool head and try to be objective. I have to be open minded to the possibly that it is not going to suck. Being a huge fan of the original, I have to separate my biased opinion and feelings and give this remake a fair shot, so here I go.
This film takes family dynamics and tries to connect with the audience by modernizing the issues that every family has to face these days; financial and family issues, plus protecting your family from harm. The Bowens move into a rather boring neighborhood. Eric and Amy Bowen who are played by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, are your typical married couple that try to stretch the dollar to provide for their three children. Sam does a good job playing a sarcastic, cynical, husband with a good heart that tries not to let the harsh reality of being unemployed keep him down. Rosemarie, who plays Amy, tries to support her husband while also taking care of the children.
So far the movie is uneventful, until things start to happen. Flickering lights, static shocks, and things start to fly around. Then suddenly their youngest child Maddie disappears. Eric and Amy hire a paranormal investigator Carrigan Burke and a paranormal psychologist Dr. Brooke Powell, played by Jared Harris and Jane Adams to try and rescue her. The film tries to bring an element of humor and objective opinion about what is going on in their house. The chemistry between the Bowens and the paranormal investigators is somewhat flat and a little boring. Sure Jared Harris who plays this celebrity ghost hunter, Carrigan Burke, tries to put his spin on what the entities want from the girl, but I feel like his character lacks the empathy and reassurance that the Bowens need in order to get through this ordeal. Jane Adams who plays the objective parapsychologist, Dr, Brooke Powell, attempts to bring an academic and logical approach to this case while trying to help the family. Her character tries to bring some sort of humor and humanity in a field that investigates the strange and paranormal. Some of her scenes are funny, but most of them are uninteresting. Sam Rockwell tries to bring his style of humor and dramatic acting to the role of a father and husband that wants to be the provider and protector at the same time, but in reality he is struggling. Rosemarie DeWitt uses her motherly instinct to hold the family together, especially when one of her children is having personal issues.
Throughout the film, there are reminders and hints of the original such as the creepy clown, the child grabbing tree, to the famous line, “They’re here”, but the filmmakers add new elements to the movie that try to enhance the intense fear that the Bowens are experiencing in their house. Some of the ‘shock-factor’ scenes have their moments of fear, but most of them are really monotonous and repetitive like we’ve seen before in other films. The movie is just another paranormal film with a family being terrorized by an unknown force. I felt like I was watching the first two Insidious films with some Ghost Hunters added to the mix.
It’s very hard to connect with most of the characters, even Maddie, who is still cute as a button. The mother and father, Eric and Amy; the older sister, Kendra; and Maddie didn’t have the right chemistry for me to relate to. Even though the actors who portrayed them did a good job, the only person I feel I could connect to is Griffin, the middle child. His story is a reflection of most kids these days. He’s not the baby in the family and not old enough to be taken seriously like his oldest sister. He is stuck in the middle. When things start to happen around him nobody listens to him, until Maddie gets taken. Kyle Catlitt, who plays Griffin uses his adolescence to portray a child terrorized by darkness while struggling to find his courage against unbelievable odds.
This film definitely has some good moments and bad moments. With technology today, I would have thought the director would use more creative licenses to show wild and imaginative ideas to enhance this film, but instead the special effects are ok, but not impressive. Most of the characters lacked the depth and complexity it needed to give this story the respect it deserves. However, the film isn’t all bad. They stuck to the original premise even though they changed the roles of the characters to make an attempt to please a more modern audience. But unfortunately, no matter how much they try to improve the chemistry of the family relationship, it still didn’t have the magic the original film gave us back in 1982.