One of those films that as a youngster in the Eighties that I loved was Tobe Hooper‘s Poltergeist, produced by Stephen Spielberg.
Now like almost every other horror film of that period, such as Friday the 13th to the Evil Dead, the film has been remade. From director Gil Kenan, who directed the family friendly CGI hit Monster House.
The film has a great cast, in particular, the always watchable Sam Rockwell, but sadly as with a lot of these remakes, you have to wonder why it is needed, the original really is a classic.
However, the film does have real promise, with scares a plenty and a creepy feeling to it, especially where the notorious clown from the poster, who scared many a UK shopper http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jul/15/poltergeist-posters-cleared-complaints-clown-image
However, once Madison, this film’s version of Carol Ann, is taken to the light, the film does rapidly go downhill and becomes heavily reliant on CGI scares
It is at this point of the film, it loses all its originality and follows the 1982 screenplay almost exactly.
It is a shame as the family are all great in their roles, Rosemarie DeWitt (who I know mainly for her role as Midge in TV’s Mad Men) is great as the mother, dealing with the 3 children as well as coping with her husband, who has been made redundant from his previous job.
It is little things like this, that help the story, it explains why they were looking to move to a house relocated on a former cemetery (or so they are told, those who have seen the original, will know it has not been moved)
The story has clever little updates, a Drone andMobile phones are used to show the paranormal activity, the special effects are good, the paranormal team from the University led by Dr. Brooke, played by Jane Adams (who you may know from TV shows such as Hung and Frasier) and her team also are good.
So where does it go wrong? Sadly for me, it is the TV ghost hunter character Carrigan Burke (played by the normally excellent Jared Harris) and again, he is not awful. Its just he does not have the script or character that made Tangina (the Zelda Rubinstein portrayed character) so iconic in the original.
The attempt to rescue Madison from the light is far too rushed and not scary at all. The scenes from the original of the family stuck in the mud with the corpses are missing, and the corpses in this are more CGI ghosts and again not scary at all.
Once again, prior to Madison joining those ‘friends’ talking to her via the TV set, I found this to be a solid creepy film, balls rolling across floors; hair raised from static electricity; the tree (one thing that is just as creepy as the original’s version) and those clowns all kept you spooked so it is a real shame that it did go downhill so fast.
On its theatrical release, the film was released in 3D, it is possible that this may have added to the scares but as the home release was not available in this format I can not comment but find it unlikely.
The home release is an extended version but this is to add more to the family rather than additional frights.
The original spawned 2 sequels, I personally would be surprised if this got just one!
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