Why do studios think they need to make a remake of every classic horror movie in existence? Seriously: Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. Granted some of these can be good, The Fly, The Ring, The Thing, but those gems are few and far between. I now introduce to you to the newest entry in the ‘not a gem’ category, Poltergeist (2015). It is directed by Gil Kenan, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and Steven Spielberg (original movie), and stars: Sam Rockwell, Rosemary DeWitt, and Jared Harris. The plot consists of a family moves to a new house where they soon discover that a supernatural force is living there too.
I will admit that Poltergeist (1982) was not the most focused movie ever made (not to mention the effects don’t hold up that well), but it did have strong characters, originality, and genuine moments of terror. This movie has none of these. The story is exactly like the original, nothing is changed or added (which is bad because a remake has to distinguish itself from the original otherwise there is no reason to justify its existence). Another (essential) aspect of good storytelling that seems to be missing in this movie would be the characters. The first movie was a bit too long, but it has the good excuse of establishing characters and setting the creepy tone. This movie just throws you right into the story and doesn’t take a breath. Subsequently, the characters are pretty bland. In no time at all, each iconic scene from the original movie is redone, and with the exception of one scene, the rest is just jump scares (cheap and obvious ones I might add) that kill any possible tension.
Something I wasn’t expecting was an uninterested, phoned-in performance from everyone in the cast. Oh, they do act scared in some scenes, but the rest of the time, they’re about as emotional as Kristen Stewart. This is especially disappointing because Sam Rockwell is known for his goofy charm and over-the-top performances like in Charlie’s Angels (2000 film) or Iron Man 2. I have not seen such an emotionless performance from a good actor since Mark Wahlberg in The Happening. Again, in the original film you could feel the love of the family as they went through this life changing endeavor, particularly the parents. In this version, it was hard to tell if they did genuinely love their kids (no exaggeration). The only things I legitimately liked from this movie was the effects (which is probably where most of the budget went now that I think about it), and a sequence during the climax that involves the spirit world which I won’t spoil for you.
On the whole, this is just forgettable. Reusing all the originality from the first film and a copy-pasted script, plus bland characters and disappointing performances make this film one to miss. Poltergeist (2015) gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C-.