Poltergeist is about a family that moves into a house that is haunted by a powerful paranormal entity, or poltergeist. Things go south real fast for the family when the noisy ghosts abduct the family’s youngest child. With time running out, they must find a way to rescue her, and—if there’s time—maybe try to banish the ghost to Hell or something. Many of today’s adults will recognize this film as a remake of the 1982 classic that shares the same name. Today’s version virtually copies its predecessor’s plot, but loses the x-factor (I’ll figure it out) that made the original an instant classic.
The movie’s lead characters do a great job of conveying great concern for their family’s well-being, as well as the right amount of fear required to sell a horror movie. Moreover, Sam Rockwell was exceptional, showing great range throughout the film. He’s facetious at first, a jokey father who’s been laid off (but buys a house anyway), and then he’s this man stricken with a tangible sense of helplessness and a fear that he might lose his daughter. I should add that I found this film’s cast much more fleshed out and relatable, but that could be because this film is tailor-made for my generation (our struggle is real). Either way, I found myself connecting with this cast — I mean, damn, when Rockwell works up some tears for the camera, it’s heartfelt.
Fans of the original will find the changes to this movie entertaining, rather than distracting; however, in updating this movie, it does adopt some clichés overused in today’s horror movie genre. The jump scares are unnecessarily scattered throughout this film, and in some cases, they aren’t effectively executed. There wasn’t anything special about this movie’s special effects, and I believe this is where Poltergeist drops the ball. The CGI wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t believable at points when it should’ve been. What distinguished the 1982 film was its special effects, and sadly, this gets lost in translation. As a stand alone film, this movie was enjoyable to watch, but its adoption of today’s cheap scares ultimately put this movie in line with countless other ‘okay’ (and forgettable) horror movies.
Now, I’m addressing fans of the original film. Was the little girl creepy? Did she say the line? Did shit go from 0 to 100 real quick? Not really. In all honesty, I can’t imagine this movie going on to make two more films. It’s not on the same level as The Conjuring, a movie that uses practical effects to incite true horror and great amounts of tension. If you’re a fan, you can afford to miss out on this one, unless you really HAVE to go watch it. You won’t be disappointed. And you won’t be impressed.