Young Madison hands out high fives to mischievous spirits in Poltergeist.

Young Madison hands out high fives to mischievous spirits in Poltergeist.

Reel Reviews: Poltergeist: They’re ba-ack!

"The new Poltergeist is a fine film, but we’ve already seen it.”

  • May. 31, 2015 2:00 p.m.

Recently laid off dad Eric (Sam Rockwell) and would-be writer mom Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt)  move their family into an Illinois suburb. They’ve gotten a great deal, as houses in this particular neighbourhood tend to sell for less.

On the day that they move in, six-year-old daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements) begins hearing voices, son Griffin (Kyle Catlett), a naturally fearful boy, discovers a creepy clown doll in his closet and teenage daughter Kendra’s (Saxon Sharbino) cell phone dies.

Hoping to impress the locals and perhaps find employment, Eric and Amy leave the kids alone to attend a dinner party. While away, each of the children is physically attacked in the home by supernatural forces. Madison is abducted and vanishes into a portal that remains open in her closet.

The Bowen family calls in famous ghost hunter Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) to bring Madison back and shut the portal, but in order to do that, many mischievous spirits may need to be appeased.

We say, “The new Poltergeist is a fine film, but we’ve already seen it.”

TAYLOR: This film is very much like the original Poltergeist. So much so that it feels like that it even pays homage to the style of the original. It looks and sounds like a Spielberg film, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but why just remake the movie? We don’t need to see the same movie, again. It feels like the filmmakers go through the motions and the audience must as well. There’s no point.

HOWE: It’s exactly the same as the original.

Normally when they make a remake there is nearly always something added that was missed in the original, mostly due to some special effects that couldn’t be done at the time. I’m surprised that they didn’t use the same script while they were at it.

The 80s version is a classic, and included things that we hadn’t then seen before in a movie. This new copy is just that, a cheap knockoff that isn’t that scary or entertaining. I’m surprised they haven’t thought about remaking Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws or Alien. I’ve seen better and scarier on the R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps kids’  TV program.

TAYLOR: Well, to be fair, I think Sam Rockwell is a better actor than Craig T. Nelson (the dad in the original). Furthermore, this new Poltergeist isn’t a bad film. It’s probably just as good as the first, which in 1982 was a special effects bonanza. Today we take the ability to do such things in film for granted. Thus, this new version seems a bit under-whelming despite being a perfectly fine film.

I think you might have hit the nail on the head by comparing it to Goosebumps because the film did really seem to be for kids. It’s about kids, features kids, (the kids do the bulk of the dealing with the spirits) and only kids would find it scary. So, if for some reason your 10-year-old wants a good scare, take him or her to Poltergeist

It’s tidy, there’s no sex, nudity, drugs, there’s no confusing plot, adult situations or even real violence. There’s not a drop of blood. It’s a safe, quick romp through a haunted house that nobody is going to care about next week.

HOWE: I guess that’s true. If I were 10 or 12 I would find this scary, but no scarier than any of the million ghost shows on TV.

– Taylor gives Poltergeist 2.5 creepy clowns out of 5.

– Howe gives it 2 creepy trees out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are freelance film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, runs in The Morning Star Fridays and Sundays.