Review: Poltergeist (2015)

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In recent years, Hollywood has attempted to capitalise on the success of classic horror films through the release of remakes, with the likes of “The Wicker Man”, “Friday The 13th” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street” all receiving modern makeovers. Such remakes have been heavily criticised for their lack of creativity and over-reliance on special effects. The latest horror to fall victim of this tired formula is “Poltergeist”.

Due to the declining economic climate, a cash-strapped Bowen family, headed by Eric (Sam Rockwell) and wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt), downgrade to a new house in the suburbs of Illinois. However, it soon emerges that the house is possessed by sinister spirits, who wreak havoc in the home and hold the youngest daughter, Madison (Kennedi Clements), captive. It’s up to the rest of the family, along with a team of parapsychologists, to engage the supernatural entities in a battle for the girl’s freedom.

The first question many will ask is whether the 1982 classic needed to be remade in the first place. The short answer is no. The second question they will ask is whether the remaster does the original justice. Again, the short answer is no.

Since the original film was released, there have been numerous technological innovations, something director Gil Kenan incorporates in this remake, as the family home is brimming with smartphones, tablets, drones and alarms. However, despite the poltergeist making its presence felt through electrical interference, the film’s writers fail to exploit and capitalise upon this new technology.

Another major flaw is the lack of atmosphere Poltergeist generates. In spite of the fluid sequences, as the camera glides and hovers over its subjects, this remake is only mildly suspenseful at best. This is predominantly down to the lazily rehashed jump scares, disjointed pacing issues and underdeveloped character stereotypes.

Not even the established cast could save this remake from being a total flop. Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jane Adams (Dr Brooke Powell) and Jared Harris (Carrigan Burke) all feature, although none of them seem overly comfortable in their respective roles, as their performances oscillate between apathetic and sheer ridiculousness.