Poltergeist is a movie that should never have been made. The 1982 film is a horror classic and it still holds up to this day, due to its creepy ambiance and simplistic story telling. This film, on the other hand, is the epitome of mediocrity and showcases everything that’s wrong with the genre right now.
Poltergeist chronicles a family’s torment, as they move into a new home only to find that it is situated atop a former graveyard. This might sound like a slightly cliché and mundane plot summary, but that’s to be expected given the fact that this is a remake of a film which has been copied multiple times since its initial release. Where this film fails isn’t in its unoriginal premise, but rather in the fact that it fails to do anything inventive or exciting with the source material that it’s adapting.
Since Poltergeist (1982) was released there have been a number of technological innovations which this movie could look to exploit and capitalise upon, especially because one of the main ways that the poltergeist makes its presence known is through electrical interference. Computers, telephones, alarm systems, and televisions have all come a long way since the original Poltergeist was made, so the fact that Gil Kenan and the many writers for this film choose not to utilise those devices is perhaps the movie’s biggest flaw.
However, there are plenty of horror movies that haven’t done anything new or creative and yet still attained commercial success; if a film of this ilk is scary all can be forgiven, because that’s what the audience has come to experience. Alas, this film is neither frightening nor entertaining, because anyone who has seen the 1982 version knows when the jump scares are coming, and even if you haven’t seen that film the instances at which this movie is going to try to scare you are so obvious that you never really feel on edge.
This film is painfully lacking in any sort of atmosphere, because the characters are underdeveloped stereotypes and all the performances are incredibly weak. Performances fluctuate between indifferent and ridiculous, with none of the cast managing to hit the sweet spot in between. Sam Rockwell’s performance is bizarre, as he switches comically between these two extremes, at one moment appearing bored and uninterested, mumbling through his lines as though he was ready to fall asleep, and at another bounding around the set like a man possessed.
Poltergeist is an unoriginal, poorly acted, lacklustre excuse for a film. It offers little in the way of entertainment and at no point is it actually scary. Jump scares and plot points are lazily rehashed from the 1982 classic, making for a film which is nowhere near as compelling or chilling as the original – my advice would be to save time and effort by staying at home and searching for that film online.