First, let’s clarify. The original Poltergeist released in 1982 was rated PG. By today’s standards it would probably be PG-13 at most. So, with this 2015 remake (reboot, whatever) we’re going to steer clear of yet another horror movie being rated under an R.
The plot is similar to the original. A family moves into a new home only to start experiencing strange occurrences that can only be explained by the supernatural.
Granted that there wasn’t much more plot in the original, but you had powerhouses like Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg behind the scenes. The remake was directed by Gil Kenan. Yeah, I don’t know who that is either. As far as the family is concerned, we have the mother, father, brother and two sisters just like the original, but for some reason the names have all been changed. We still get the little girl talking to the TV, but it’s not nearly as compelling. And when we get the famous line, “They’re Here” the girl says it almost as though she’s bored. Of course, having read the script ahead of time and knowing what was to come, perhaps it was her way of letting us viewers know that only boredom was to come.
None of the characters are fleshed out at all. We only get the tiny hint of what these people might be, but not enough to remotely care about them. (One thing you may notice in this review is my lack of names, it’s because there isn’t a single memorable character in the entire flick.) Even the great Jared Harris can’t save this meandering snoozefest. He shows up way too late in the film (nearly two-thirds through) and is given next to nothing to do other than spout the trite David Lindsay-Abaire wrote in his lurid script.
The set-pieces, you know the stuff we came to see, are boring, predictable and just plain uninteresting. There are moments from the original recreated here, but again they’re done without any flare. It was as thought he filmmakers realized they’d gone a few minutes without homaging the original and threw something haphazardly. Which brings me to my other problem with the film. It tries to be different, but not really. All the names are changed from the original, yet it’s the same family with the same siblings as the original. Jared Harris is the Zelda Rubinstein of the film without any of her charm or wit. We get the clown attack that isn’t remotely scary and even the tree makes an unwanted CGI-laden appearance.
The most important role of the film is the little girl, Carol-Ann from the original. Some child actors are great and what the late Heather O’Rourke did in the original was memorable and impressive. Would have been interesting to see what she may have become had she not passed at such a young age. The girl here couldn’t care any less about the role and does nothing to improve on the lazy writing. When she speaks the famous line, “They’re Here,” she’s nearly yawning (as are we). I expected a lot more from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. You know, the two producers behind the Evil Dead films and its rather good remake.
The blu-ray is just as disappointing as the film itself. I guess Ghost House Pictures and 20th Century Fox knew that adding special features to a terrible film wouldn’t help sales so they didn’t bother. All we get is an unrated cut of the film (the only version I’ve seen and can’t possibly begin to tell you what was added, i.e. gore, violence, since there’s none to be found). Then we get an alternate ending that might be worse than the theatrical ending; and a still gallery rounds out the features – not counting the previews, which I don’t.
It’s a disappointing blu-ray for a very disappointing remake. Don’t bother with this film, not even from Redbox. Instead, invest your money in the original. Perhaps one day we’ll get a special features-laden release of that far superior film.