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    Poltergeist (2015): Movie Review

    "Brave and serviceable, but less daunting than the original."

    This is an age where almost all stories have been told in movies. It is no wonder that reboots are common these days, especially in the horror department. Still, it comes as a shock when producer Sam Raimi and director Gil Kenan gave their own version of the 1982 horror classic by producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper. Did 2015’s Poltergeist live up to the expectations? Or did the creators fall short? 

    The new Poltergeist opens with some mobile game about zombie, and in case you have not watched the 1982 movie, that and the Ghost House Pictures emblem tell you that it shall be a horror film. The Bowen family, composing of father Eric (Sam Rockwell), mother Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt), eldest daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), middle child Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements), are moving into their new house in a quiet neighborhood. In the days that follow, the family observes paranormal activities inside the house but choose not to mind them. However, the forces are unstoppable and soon take Maddie through the closet. Enlisting the help of some paranormal experts, the family learns about the poltergeist and then devise a plan to save their youngest. 

    The present film essentially follows the same storyline as the original and some elements are common. In both films, technology has played an important role. The 1982 version relied only on TV and the lightings, but now, statics on the mobile phone and gadgets assisted in bringing the scare. They also follow similar tricks in frightening the audience – creepy toys, kids talking to unseen forces, and weird paranormal experts. However, the 2015 clown fell flat and lacks authenticity as we have seen creepier toys before like in Annabelle and Saw. In the old film, the moving and child-pulling tree is badass and its reflections on the window panes were really hair-rising. Now, it is just a moving tree.

    Moreover, 2015’s Poltergeist also lacks the comedic aspect from the previous film. In the 1982 movie, the family takes pleasure in the magnetic forces inside the house. They look silly as they play around, throw things and slide on the floor due to those forces. That and other witty scenes create certain balance, and at the same time, intensify the frightening aura in the film. Though there are attempts for humor in the reboot, they do not strikethrough and the entire film generally appears tight and serious.

    Yet, Raimi and Kenan provided some pleasant spins in Poltergeist. During the first major attack, scaring the three kids at the same time and at different locations in the house is somewhat new. Unlike in the old version, the older sister becomes significant here. The drill scene, where one of the paranormal investigators is pulled on the wall while his equipment mysteriously bore holes from the other side, is also refreshing and solicits a great amount of scare. However, the remake is not as daunting as the first movie. It fails to initially create the necessary atmosphere which would have made everything else creepier. It is hurried and obligated. The old film took time to build up tension and drama which resulted to maximum fright.

    Basically, both films exemplify how families can reunite to brave a trying time and save one of their own. There is an obvious distinction between the two movies though. In 1982, it was the mother who is courageous enough to take the youngest child away from the poltergeist. The mother-child relationship is strong and it is something relatable and moving. In the remake, it is the middle child who, after feeling guilty for the disappearance of his sibling, faces the poltergeist and saves his sister. It is still touching yet the connection to the audience may not be as valid.

    With all fairness, the actors in the present film gave justice to their roles. In particular, newcomer Clements as the child Maddie is exceptional. Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne in the old film is very iconic with her blonde bangs, chubby cheeks and angelic face. Yet, Clements stands on her own as she also exudes her own unique charm and voice. Rockwell and Catlett also shine in their performance as father and son. 

    Poltergeist is technically good and genuinely frightening. However, there is already the 1982 movie which is a lot creepier, and considering that both films follow the same plot, there is a question of the need for a reboot. Well, if you cannot find a copy of the original movies in your stores or websites, the remake is a passable replacement.


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