Investigating spooky goings on with the remake of classic chiller Poltergeist
Having been led “into the light” of development hell after MGM went bust, the Poltergeist remake finally shook off its infamous curse thanks to Twentieth Century Fox and – excitingly – horror- nut producer Sam Raimi. Coincidentally, economic misfortune is at the heart of this reboot, seeing a downwardly mobile family – perhaps they worked for MGM – reluctantly move out to the ’ burbs only to find themselves picking up something even worse than ITV4 on their iPads.
There are few cinematic sights SFX likes more than Sam Rockwell dancing, so we’re delighted that he’s playing pater familias Eric Bowen, the man who comes to realise he’s been boogieing on the graves of dead Indians: the new family homestead sitting rather disrespectfully on sacred burial ground. Rosemarie DeWitt ( The Odd Life Of Timothy Green) is his other- half, who now discovers a supernatural affinity and maternal
strength that may just come in handy when one of her brood get trapped in a closet that would even pose an issue for R Kelly.
The original movie was overshadowed by the controversy over who really directed it: credited helmer Tobe Hooper or allegedly “hands- on” producer Steven Spielberg? There’s no such confusion this time around: Gil Kenan – the director of the animated Monster House and City Of Ember – is the man charged with navigating the franchise back from the other side.
As you could gather from Kenan’s CV, we’re not exactly dealing with Evil Dead- levels of gore here, or even that of the notoriously certificate- cheating, corpse- defiling original ( it got a PG in the States): this Poltergeist is aimed squarely at the family market – in 3D no less. “It’s more of a kids’ movie so I don’t know if it’s going to be rated- R scary,” suggests Rockwell. “It’s a different kind of movie. It’s more of an adventure.”
Don’t touch my baby
In fact the kids – ghoul- magnets for the restless spirits buried beneath them – are now even more crucial: “The 10- year- old boy [ Kyle Catlett’s Griffin] is really the protagonist this time,” suggests Rockwell. “[ The mum] was the protagonist for the most part in the first one and now it’s really through the point of view of the kid.”
Send i n the clowns
Obviously you shouldn’t expect exactly the same sort of bed- bothering, tree- monstering, coulrophobic nightmares as last time but we’d be surprised if there weren’t “homages” aplenty: some clown- led assault that will hopefully be making small children panic about what’s under the bed ( and hate the circus) for years to come. And of course the iconic “They’re heeeere” is almost definitely going to be uttered at some point.
Who you gonna call?
When you’re stuck with unwelcome visitors, you’ll need some big characters to provide mystic assistance. But pint- sized Tangina – as played by the late Zelda Rubinstein – has been consigned to a satanic sinkhole. The position of Quirky Supernatural Guide is here filled by Carrigan Burke, an academic turned hack host of hackier cable show Haunted House Cleaners and played by Mad Men’s Jared Harris. He comes with a bit of baggage: a suspicious parapsychologist ex- wife – Jane Adams’ Dr Claire Powell – who’s keeping a beady eye on the chaos blowing up at the Bowen house.
When to expect i t?
They’re heeeeeere in 3D on 31 July.
“Coulrophobic”: the fear of clowns. Natch.
Expect scares, but more kid- friendly than before.
At least they haven’t got a stair lift like in Gremlins.