Poltergeist 3D (2015)

Poltergeist 3D (2015)


They know what scares you.

The Evil Dead director Sam Raimi presents a modern take on the 1982 suburban frightfest Poltergeist, with Gil Kenan (Monster House) directing. Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt star as the Bowens, a couple whose youngest daughter is abducted by terrifying apparitions.

Flicks Review

A remake of the Steven Spielberg-produced domestic horror classic from 1982 could quite reasonably have suffered from a case of the 'John Carters'. Which is to say, it's based on source material that has been so influential, any new adaptation would undoubtedly be cursed by a sense of over familiarity.... More

And when you look at how determined director Gil Kenan has been to evoke a Spielbergian tone in his prior films Monster House and City of Ember, a slavish devotion to the original Poltergeist could certainly have been expected.

But thankfully, by zeroing in the the parts of the original that none of the imitators have been able to successfully replicate, Kenan and his collaborators (which includes producer Sam Raimi) have created a big screen horror experience with a lot of fresh appeal.

The thrills and chills are fine and spectacular, but it's the casually authentic family dynamic that really sells the dread here. The convincingly laconic leads Rosemarie DeWitt and Sam Rockwell help enormously in this regard.

Plus Kenan keeps the bland domestic setting contained to claustrophobic effect, which helps it seem creepy in a way that houses only seemed when you were a kid.

Although the predominantly terrible nature of every other '80s horror remake is probably enhancing my perception of this one, it nevertheless stands as a hearty reminder of how much more effective a film like this can be when you actually care about the characters.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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The original ‘Poltergeist’, from an idea and script by Steven Spielberg, directed by Tobe Hooper (of the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and not the disappointing Michael Bay produced remakes), was one of my favourite childhood scares, alongside Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’, Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead 2’ and John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing.’ Good, fun, brilliantly made and acted scare-fests, with some wonderful special effects and tangible gore.

The problem with remakes of movies... More you love is that they invariably suck. For every great horror classic remake (personally I loved the Zack Snyder directed, James Gunn scripted, remake of George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’), there’s twenty Nick Cage in the ‘Wicker Man’ piles of cinematic doo-doo. Reimaginings can work (I really dug Matthijs van Heijningen’s prequel to Carpenter’s brilliant ‘The Thing’, itself a reimagining of the original 1951 ‘The Thing From Another World’). Then again, they can just be a waste of time, (I loved Rob Zombie's 'Devil's Rejects', but his version of Carpenter’s classic slasher ‘Halloween’ did nothing for me, and John Moore’s horrible updating of Richard Donner’s classy horror ‘The Omen’ did even less).

Now director Gil Keenan (of animated, kiddy light-horror-comedy, ‘Monster House’), has taken one of my favourite childhood scary flicks, ‘Poltergeist’, and given it the modern makeover. We should be in safe hands here, with Sam ‘Evil Dead’ Raimi producing, and the great Sam Rockwell starring as the dad, alongside a more than capable cast, with great performances from the kids. But (and it’s a big-ass but) if, like me, you love the original, this ‘Poltergeist’ offers nothing new, and worse still, adds nothing interesting.

When Scorsese updated the great ‘Cape Fear’ he brought some fascinating modern twists, and a whole new approach to shooting, that at once paid respectful homage to J. Lee Thompson’s original, and updated the heck out of it. Just making Sam Rockwell’s character a guy who’s lost his job isn’t exactly a radical reworking of the original dad (the wonderful Craig T. Nelson), nor does it add diddly squat. Same goes for CGI effects. Who cares if they aren’t scary? And as for designing it for 3D – a drill coming towards camera? Really? That’s the best you’ve got?

Still, at least some of the original’s humour and genuine non-politically correct sense of kids in peril is retained, but what’s lost in translation from 1982 to now is the scare-factor. It just ain’t scary - unless clown toys freak you out, in which case you’d be better off with James Wan’s ‘The Conjuring’.

Maybe I’m just an old git, unable to get over my devotion to the horror classics of my youth. Maybe this ‘Poltergeist’ will find similar admirers amongst kids deemed too young to watch it, enjoying the vicarious thrill of watching a movie they shouldn’t be allowed to see? Maybe. It’s well made. It's quite funny. It's well acted. But, if you love the original, this ‘Poltergeist’ doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.Hide

The Press Reviews

34% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • A disappointingly tame and unimaginative effort, which throws away much of what was best-loved about the original and fails to find worthy replacements. Full Review

  • Very tame, but saved from the remake scrapheap by Sam Rockwell's surprisingly touching performance and a final reel that - briefly - takes the material somewhere new. Full Review

  • Not only delivers on the promise of Hooper's Poltergeist, but significantly raises the stakes for similar PG-13 fare. Full Review

  • This has more in common with slick, audience-goosing modern spookers like 'Insidious' than with Hooper & Spielberg's imaginative original. Full Review

  • An act of homage that hews reverently to its source material while missing the essential spirit and vitality that once powered it. Full Review

  • It’s a shame Kenan can’t muster his own bit of gothic shorthand for post-credit crunch America, but the film still has a fluid, 3D-orientated immediacy. Full Review