Remakes are always a tricky beast and it is even made more difficult when it is a remake of a beloved classic as the recent remake of Poltergeist (2015). Met with a lot of derision this new remake seemed (from the trailers) to follow the same trajectory of the original film. The new screenplay is by David Lindsay-Abaire and the film is directed by Gil Kenan but it is a film that follows much of the original film.
Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemary DeWitt, respectfully) have been forced to move their family in a more affordable home after Eric is fired from his job. Now Eric is trying to give the most convincing image of a normal life to his three children – the oldest daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), his son Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and his youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements). It is not long before Madison is drawn to the strange paranormal presence in the house. Griffin’s experience in the house is more malevolent as he also suffers from his own anxiety. Once the paranormal presence shows itself to the entire family it’s too late and Madison becomes trapped in the world between the living and the dead. Eric and Amy then seek the help of a group of college paranormal investigators who when faced with a real poltergeist haunting bring in a reality star expert in the form of Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) who must help the Bowen family come together in order to rescue Madison from the Other Side.
The film for the most part follows the original film beat for beat. Even though some of the actual character’s motivations and incidents are switched it is still the original Poltergeist. The real problem with the film is not the actors as they do a serviceable job with the material although Rockwell’s talents are completely underused in this film. The real problem is just that the film itself isn’t all that interesting or innovative. Carrigan Burke as a reality show star mimics the effects of Peter Vincent as an illusionist in the remake of Fright Night (2011), only less effective. The idea of bad economics causing Eric to be out of work is an interesting prospect that is not explored more than the simple first act setup and then quickly forgotten. The film just doesn’t just is too mediocre and timid for its own good.
The film just doesn’t improve on the original and it relies too much of CGI effects to show the paranormal entities whereas this is definitely a film where the practice of “less is more” should have been…well, practiced. Unfortunately, this is yet another remake that will be easily forgotten as if it had never been in the first place.