Poltergeist

They’re here. Again...

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

15 | 94 min­utes Di­rec­tor: Gil Ke­nan Cast: Sam Rock­well, Rose­marie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams

If you re­ally wanna

make some money quick, a poltergeist ab­duc­tion isn’t a bad idea...” So says para­nor­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Boyd ( Ni­cholas Braun) half­way into Gil Ke­nan’s slick up­date of the 1982 Steven Spiel­berg/ Tobe Hooper spook film. The ex­ec­u­tives at Ghost House Pic­tures clearly feel the same. The orig­i­nal Poltergeist is more fondly re­mem­bered gate­way flick than genre clas­sic, but it dis­played a sin­gu­lar mix of Hoope­rian peril and Spiel­ber­gian charm. So why bother re­mak­ing it? The stu­dio claims it’s to “up­date an iconic brand”, words that are way more chill­ing than any­thing in the movie.

You know the story: nice fam­ily move into not- nice house: par­ents Eric ( Sam Rock­well) and Amy ( Rose­marie DeWitt), plus stageschool cu­tie Madi­son ( Kennedi Cle­ments), wor­ri­some mini- Jesse Eisen­berg Grif­fin ( Kyle Catlett) and sulky teen Ken­dra ( Saxon Sharbino). It’s not long be­fore buy­ing a house full of creaky at­tic bed­rooms and in­ex­pli­ca­bly locked cup­boards proves a pre­dictably poor call. Although the fam­ily dy­namic is well sketched by scripter David Lind­say- Abaire, Ke­nan is so, ahem, ea­ger to skip to the good bit, the film quickly be­comes a tick- list of 3D CG gotchas: the tree, the TV, the clowns plu­ral. “Why would some­one leave a box of clowns?” puzzles Grif­fin, the film’s sec­ond stu­pid­est line af­ter a groan- in­duc­ing com­ment about “an an­cient tribal grave­yard”.

Rock­well, as ever, is twitchily bril­liant, whether crack­ing jokes (“Yeah, well, we got too many kids”) or just crack­ing up – the scene where he bursts into tears at the fate of his daugh­ter, alone in the ether, feels jolt­ingly real. And just when it seems like Ke­nan’s given up the ghost, comes a fi­nale set amid freaky, flail­ing spir­its that’s so imag­i­na­tively staged it lifts the en­tire film. It still wouldn’t scare even the nervi­est of 15- year- olds, but then no­body seems clear who Poltergeist is aimed at. Too slight for adults, too silly for teens, too niche for the suits and too naff for the fans, it’s trapped in the kind of limbo you need more than an ex­or­cist and a length of rope to es­cape from. Matt Glasby Sam Rock­well phoned up JoBeth Wil­liams and Craig T Nel­son ( stars of the orig­i­nal film) to ask their ad­vice.

Yet still it was prefer­able to Jeremy Kyle.

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