Written by Christian James Haight
When news broke that the 1982 horror classic, “Poltergeist” would be getting a remake, fans were very upset. Nonetheless, updating Stephen Spielberg’s original idea to the 21st century was a great plan. Although just because the remake appears to be a good idea, the final cut doesn’t always end up that way. There are a few good things about the remake, but ultimately it fell due to Director Gil Kenan’s lack of experience.
With the rise of technology in the last thirty years since the original, Kenan was able to explore what changes could be made for a haunting from a Poltergeist. While he kept the main focus on the TV, which almost acted as a window between our world and the dead’s, Kenan was also able to use computers, phones and other technology to his advantage. That’s what gave “Poltergeist” such a need for a remake, and although this remake was a great idea, the execution wasn’t.
It began with the typical beginning to any haunting movie, with a family moving into a new house in order to start fresh. Only this family had no idea that their house served as some sort of portal between the physical world and a world filled with those stuck in purgatory. The Bowen family is like most pleasant families. The parents, Eric and Amy, played by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, have trouble making a living for themselves. Even with the struggle of producing a stable future for each other and their kids, they’ll never give up on trying to create the All-American Family.
As they move into their new home, starting over doesn’t come easy. Their middle child and only son, Griffin, played by Kyle Catlett, has trouble dealing with practically anything. He gets incredibly nervous during situations, up to the point of getting scared when anything makes a noise. Not only does this trouble the parents, but it keeps the audience’s fear down as well. As the haunting within the house begins to progress, Griffin starts to become very anxious because of how scared he is. Catlett does such a great job at acting scared that the audience will realize that he’s more scared than they are. Thus calming down any sense of fear throughout the audience and turning a horror movie into something of a lower standard.
There are three different ways to create a scary horror movie. Jump scares, very strange incidences or jump an incredibly creepy plot. Kenan used very few jump scares and strange incidences, but not nearly enough to really get an audience freaking out. Along with that, what is supposed to be the scariest scene is filled with so much fake-looking CGI that comes off as too much like a cartoon to be remotely scary.
With that, a plus side to the movie is that they jumped right into the haunting. Often, horror movies make the mistake of forcing an audience to like the characters by giving a half-hour of unneeded character development. Within the first few scenes, the family noticed that the youngest daughter, Madison, was talking to people who weren’t visible. While the parents first passed this off as imaginary friends, it didn’t take long at all for them to realize that they were wrong. While the action began rolling, audiences were also given a look into the personal lives of the Bowen family, which allowed for character development that didn’t feel so forced. Naturally, the entire family was like able, because they all exhibited different traits that could be related to a wide variety of people.
With the movie quickly moving in the beginning, it reasonably cut down the length that the movie could have been. Kenan should have instead used this unused time to provide an ending that is satisfying instead of rushed. Not that the ending was bad, but what’s the point of creating any movie that doesn’t take its time with the ending? An ending that can wrap up what’s been going on for the past hour-and-a-half is what every movie needs. So it’s incomprehensible that a director would rush through their ending. Not only does an audience want to see closure to the horror side of the movie, but also everything that the family dealt with outside of the hauntings. It isn’t the type of ending that shows there will be a sequel to finish the story, but instead it’s just an ending that needed a few more minutes.
Out of the bad choices Kenan made for “Poltergeist,” what really ruined the movie were the horror movies made in between the original and the remake. When the original version came out during the ‘80s, it was a revolutionary horror flick. Within the past thirty years since the original, other horror movies have been made and pulled ideas from it. So when “Poltergeist” was remade for our modern world, everything in the movie has been seen over and over again due to other horror movies. This isn’t something that anyone can blame Kenan or the writers for, because it’s due to the fact that other scary movies about hauntings have been made since the original.
Unlike most movies, remaking “Poltergeist” was a good idea in order to update it for modern times. The problem is that the attempt was bad and ultimately only created a movie that will be forgotten. It wasn’t scary, the plot has been seen over and over, and what is supposed to be the scariest scene was filled with so much CGI that it looked overly fake. In the end, Kenan wasn’t the right director to lead the remake. Such an important movie to the horror genre needed a director who has had similar experience before.
- Director: Gil Kenan
- Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire
- Actors: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams
- Genre: Action and Adventure
- Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
Pros:A great idea to update the classic horror movie for modern times; got right into the action; likable characters.
Cons: For a horror movie, it’s not very scary; very cliché; ending is rushed.
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