Friday, May 22, 2015

Movie Review #261: "Poltergeist" (2015)

Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Gil Kenan
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Image Source
After losing his job, Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) moves his family into a new, less expensive home. Unbeknownst to them, their house is already occupied by some angry poltergeists are trapped in limbo who wish to use their youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements) as a guide to the other side.

Why would you keep a crapload of clown dolls if you had just moved into a new house and didn't know where they came from? Hell no, you trash that shit IMMEDIATELY.

I must let it be known that the original "Poltergeist" is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, so on principle, I reject the remake of this movie. However, that's not very "critical" of me, so I digress.

It's bad to start a review by saying "this isn't as bad as we thought it was going to be," but in the case of the new "Poltergeist," it's true. We fear the worst with remakes such as this, and though we were not wholly disappointed in it, it still isn't the best remake ever, nor is it the best horror movie ever, and it's not even the best horror movie of this year. It is a noble effort on the part of Gil Kenan to bring such a classic horror film to life in the 21st century with contemporary modernization. The movie starts out relatively weak premise with the Bowen clan moving into a new, smaller house because patriarch Eric, played by Sam Rockwell, has recently lost his job. This is the same stupid, cliched premise where most horror movies begin. By the way, good luck getting a home loan after being laid off, but again, we digress. Even before they sign the escrow papers, daughter Maddy, played by adorable newcomer Kennedi Clements, starts noticing strange goings on and is already talking to closet doors within 5 minutes of stepping into the new house. Shortly after getting settled in their new rooms, son Griffin, played by Kyle Catlett, who is already afraid of the dark, immediately starts to hear noises and see objects move about on their own. Of course, no one believes him and the rest of the family chalks it up to him being a scardey cat. Eric and wife Amy, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, in an effort to network new business connections that never seem to pan out, attend a dinner party where they learn their new house was built on a former cemetery that was moved to a nicer neighborhood. This is the only reason this scene exists in the film. When they get home, all hell has broken loose and Griffin has been grabbed by the tree outside his window, eldest daughter Kendra, played by Saxon Sharbino, has been held down by sludge-hands in the basement, and Maddy has been dragged into the closet vortex by ghosts, much like in the original "Poltergeist," but slightly different in execution. From there, the family contacts a group of paranormal investigators from Amy's old college to try and get Maddy back. The movie starts out looking like a run of the mill modern horror film riddled with nothing but jump-scares, but as the movie rolls along, filmmakers do manage to add some creepy elements and set an eerie mood from time to time. Most of these menacing parts of the film come from electric disturbances and some moving objects caused by the poltergeist, though there is a lot of resorting to loud banging noises in lieu of actual jump-scares. At first, I liked where the movie was headed as far as getting Maddy back from inside the closet vortex spirit world. In an effort to be cool and new and different, it's as if director Gil Kenan looked back at the original "Poltergeist" and decided, "you know what? We have the technology to show the inside of the closet vortex spirit world, so LET'S DO IT!" Only, instead of taking the time to produce pristine, quality graphics that could and would have elevated this film above just another useless remake, he resorted to hokey, cheesy CGI video game graphics to make his spirits even more generic than they already were. These bad graphics completely removed us from the movie and hurt our overall enjoyment and experience of the film. Instead of being scared or creeped out by these visuals, we simply thought, "these spirit ghosts graphics look like complete shit!" The reason these types of scenes in the original "Poltergeist" worked so well was because director Tobe Hooper used prosthetic bodies and applications to make the creepiness seem more realistic, without being a typical bloody horror mess. It was sold on the eerie, unsettling factor you alone, and it seems as if the effects were better 30 years ago then they are now.

Though there is nothing fundamentally all that wrong with the new "Poltergeist," it simply didn't need to happen in the first place. It's yet another pointless remake in a long list of rehashings that would have been better off left alone, unsullied and untouched. This film in no way advances or elevates it anywhere close to the original, though tweens will probably love it for all the modern changes and the teenage daughter's 'oh so cool' talking back to her parents that would make me embarrassed to call her my kid. Nevertheless, there were some cool technical elements in the middle of the film that we really enjoyed and would have liked to see oomphed up a bit. Unfortunately, filmmakers don't come all that close to genuinely scaring audiences without loud thuds and clangs attached. Rockwell's signature witty delivery is good for a chuckle every now and then, but he's not completely funny. And on top of all of this, the one thing we had hoped to see was the young daughter exclaiming, "they're heeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" just like in the original, but Clements quickly monotones this most important line and sets the stage for a bummer to come.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~48%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

No comments:

Post a Comment