They’re here. Again...
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.