Blu-ray Review: ‘Poltergeist’ Ain’t That Bad

I can’t think of another remake as despised before anyone ever saw it as ‘Poltergeist’. You would have thought someone had broken into the nerd time machine and gone back to stop the creation of ‘Star Wars’ by reading some comments. I mean, I love everything that Steven Spielberg has done more than just about anyone I know, but I’m not going to go ape shit if someone decides they want try and recreate the magic of ‘E.T.’ or ‘Jaws’.

If a movie works then a movie works. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time the movie has worked or if it’s the 50th. We have likely recreated the works of Shakespeare so many times that you couldn’t keep count, but I don’t hear anyone screaming blasphemy that they are making another version of ‘Macbeth’. So, we really need to just pipe down on the remakes. Movies are going to be remade just like plays have been remade and songs have been remade.

If a story is really good then our society is going to retell it in a slightly new way for a new generation. That’s just how it is. ‘Poltergeist’ is one of those really good stories that someone thought a new generation of horror fans might enjoy. That’s probably true and it will likely turn out a nice profit. Which is totally fine by me, because the movie ain’t that bad.

I’m not going to say that it’s anywhere near as good as the original or that it’s necessarily something you need to pay to see in the theater, but it’s worth seeing at some point. Especially if you have never seen the original and are one of those people who just won’t watch older movies. I’m not sure what your aversion is to the classics, but luckily for you they are doing a half decent job of creating those old movies again for your half interested viewing pleasure.

The story for ‘Poltergeist’ is almost a carbon copy of its predecessor. A family moves into a new home that just happens to have been built on a cemetery and the bodies that have been wronged are out for revenge. So, they enter the house and plant their seed in the smallest of the children. This leads to a series of clever scares and a run in with some paranormal investigators that just might be able to save the day.

That’s about as vague as I can get for the uninitiated. Now, some of the original movies style for tension has been lost here, but it tries to make up for it with a likable family and some humor. These ingredients may not push the movie into any special territory, but it makes for some entertainment. I really enjoyed Sam Rockwell as the dad in this picture. These characters are typically card board cut outs, but Rockwell gives Mr. Bowen some much needed character.

The children are also quite good. I really liked the little girl Madison (Kennedi Clements). She is absolutely adorable in many sequences and works quite well as the face of fear when she needs to. The rest of the family are well acted, but don’t leave as much of an impression. Still, despite some very thin character development, I liked the Bowen family.

Most of the horror gags are the same as the original with not quite as good a pay off, but there are a few interesting new twists. I especially liked the use of handheld drones and iPhones to replace old school things like a flashlight. It’s always neat to see how different someone in a different century might handle similar situations. I recommend watching the old one after you watch this one. It’s kind of uncanny.

Which is really the point, both negatively and positively. If you liked the original ‘Poltergeist’ it’s partially because of the story and that is intact here. However, you are likely to pick apart every little thing that made the other so much better and end up having a bad time. The truth is that most horror fans will enjoy this movie and get some fun out of it. I wouldn’t call it scary, but none of these movies are. The rest of you might want to just skip it.

Nathan Ligon

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