Thursday, April 7, 2016
Poltergeist (2015) review
Most horror remakes these days grow to be trashed by Hollywood flair and jump scares. The remake of Spielberg's Poltergeist just barely falls short of that. The modernized remake adds little to what the source material provided back in the eighties, but what it does add is supple for the general public. Some creepy imagery and new quirks keep the movie from completely failing.
PLOT: Eric (Sam Rockwell) and Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) Bowen are moving into a new house with their three children when, as in the original film, strange things start to happen. As the family gets established in their new house, electric anomalies start occurring and things start to happen on their own. As time goes on, things get stranger and stranger until the youngest daughter is sucked into a vortex leading into the spirit world where she stays trapped. The family goes to seek help to defeat these malevolent spirits and recruit the help of two different, rival paranormal investigators. As in the original film, the family and crew must pull the daughter out of the spirit world existing due to the house's location above a sacred burial ground. The main plotline is pretty much unchanged from the original film, which would be nice if the producers would have dedicated to some of the scarier parts of the original as well. They try to add too many generic changes like cheesy jump scares and alternate situations loosely based on those that happened in the original. The movie tried to be its own entity, which it is in a bad way. It's the bland remake everyone wasted their hype on. If people had expected a small homage to the film in place of something brilliant in the horror world, the movie's reception would have been more reasonable.
ACTING: The performances in this movie are for the most part pretty bland. The roles are let down by unenthusiastic acting and unfitting roles. Sam Rockwell, though talented in some of his previous media, was a terrible fit for the father in Poltergeist. None of the other cast really adds any spirit to the movie except for maybe Jared Harris and Jane Adams as the rival paranormal investigators, Carrigan Burke and Dr. Brooke Powell. They were decent in their roles, but maybe that's because the characters felt fresher and not defined by too much of a previous standard. They kept the plot a bit more interesting in its changes.
SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: The score composed by Jake R. Sanderson isn't anything too fresh. The score just does what it needs to, which is adding suspenseful and creepy music to the background.
EFFECTS: The effects here are hit-and-miss for the most part. Some of the more basic effects were pretty well done, like the clown doll and electricity effects. However, some of the effects were just the trippy equivalent of overused CGI. For example, the spirits inside the vortex were a cool concept to add, but the effects made them look extremely fake and over-polished. The effects of the vortex itself were probably the best in the movie, as they were at least visually pleasing.
OTHER CONTENT: For the most part, it may sound to the audience like I'm trashing the Poltergeist remake entirely. For the most part, it does have a lot of flaws to the close eye of a horror buff. However, it does add a few new views on certain aspects of the movie. Modernizing the film was good in relation to the use of technology. It made the whole "haunted house" effect feel a bit more definable. Also, the remake adds some truly creepy imagery in parts. Though not as frequently freaky as in the first film, the imagery still does present a feeling of uneasiness, especially in relation to any scene with the clown doll. The movie also doesn't take too long to pick up and get the action rolling, which isn't so bad. It captures the audience's attention at the beginning and does its best to keep the audience hooked while establishing little sections of background story. This remake actually does have a few successes compared to all of its flaws, which its why it's not a completely bland adaptation of the classic. The remake is pretty generic yet entirely its own entity, rising and falling in several different aspects the original had all together.
In today's world, it's so easy to ruin a classic with a terrible remake attempting to recreate movie magic. This remake of Poltergeist is one step above that. It isn't too terrible, but it isn't too great either. The movie tries to establish itself as its own entity but for the most part fails. So much things were done wrong, which actually makes the things done right stick out. Some new creepy imagery and modernized views keep the movie from completely bombing, as well as the fairly frequent scenes of action. The movie is worth a watch, but probably only one. For these filmmakers, that may be frightening enough to give up or give it another try in the horror world.