In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that the original Poltergeist is probably my favorite scary movie of all time. It was my first scary movie. I remember watching it in front of one of those old floor televisions with the giant knobs on them, getting scared out of my wits when the dude tore his own face off or when that big scary head came out of the closet. My nostalgia meter with Poltergeist is about as high as those meters can go so, which is why this new remake of Poltergeist probably didn’t have a ghost of a chance with me.
Partially, it’s my fault. I never really gave this new Poltergeist a fair shot, but in my own defense, when you remake a classic movie, you do nothing but invite criticism and comparison and that comparison and criticism only gets stronger when you don’t improve on the source material which is, honestly, the only damn reason you should should even do a remake in the first place.
If you want to call me biased, you can call me biased. I will own up to it and wear it like a badge of honor because there is no reason… absolutely no reason why this remake should exist.
Let’s just do this…
Poltergeist tells the story of a family that moves into a new house and, once moved in, weird things start to happen, culminating in the spiritual kidnapping of their youngest daughter.
Comparisons are going to happen and, in every measurable sense, the original Poltergeist is a far superior movie to this one. The original had a better atmosphere, better acting, better special effects, more scares, more dread, and through it all it had a sense of wonder and strange beauty amongst the horror.
This new Poltergeist feels like it could have been filmed anywhere. The actors seem bored to be there, the special effects either look like throwbacks or like cheap CGI video game cutscenes, the scares are telegraphed long before they happen, and the sense of wonder and beauty is replaced by a pace that never allows the characters or the audience to take a break and soak in what’s happening.
There’s just no energy to the thing. No heart and no soul. Everything about the new Poltergeist is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, leaving no room for a sense of growing dread. I mean, for goodness sakes, bodies are busting through the floors less than half an hour in!
It’s not that Poltergeist is horrible and I’m sure that the ignorant nubes out there who have never seen the original will probably think that it’s an okay movie, but it just does not justify its own existence. Sure, it tweaks the story a bit and adds new modern elements, but it never adds the timeless elements that made the original such a classic. Despite having the identical plot, Poltergeist ’15 isn’t Poltergeist ’82… hell, it’s not even Poltergeist II or Poltergeist III. It’s like they wanted the movie to feel more like Insidious or some other lame modern horror staple. This movie knows no restraint, no subtly, and shoves everything in your face as most bad horror movies do, never allowing your own imagination a chance to scare you.
Just rent the original. There is literally nothing in the remake that tops it.