I was going to post some images from the movie here, but I don't want to fill my review with incessant images of kids in pajamas, as that is a surefire way to get on several FBI watch lists. So, if you're a fan of graphic intensive reviews, I recommend reading one of the other reviews...
It's no secret, that I absolutely adore the original Poltergeist. Even though that original film is only slightly younger than I am, I still find myself enjoying the hell out of it. The effects are cheesy, the action isn't always that great, but the nostalgia factor is through the roof. There is a part of me that wants to have Zelda Rubenstein saying "This house... is clean" as my text message alert. Just want you to understand, I loved that movie.
When I heard they were remaking it, there was a part of me that recoiled like a vampire that had run headlong into a crucifix that had been coated in a garlic and holy water spritz. Then there was a part of me that thrilled at the idea of revisiting the film that was a huge part of my formative years. Then there was the part of me that was indifferent. Eventually, my overenthusiastic side won out, and this was placed on my most anticipated movies of 2015 list, partially because the studio saw fit to release it during the summer movie season, rather than mitigating it to a sub-prime February or October slot. That tells me that there is some confidence in the production.
Despite my enthusiasm, I had to approach this movie with a great deal of skepticism. On top of that, I forced myself to dial down my expectations. I had to scrub my mind of thoughts of the original. I had to force myself to forget about Coach, and replace him with Guy Fleegman, a feat much more difficult than I would have thought. After dialing that all back I stepped into the theater, and waited.
After what seemed like an endless string of trailers for awful looking Adam Sandler movies, or another utterly joyless excuse for Melissa McArthy to be self deprecating, the movie began...
And honestly, it wasn't all bad.
Keep in mind, that that is not the same as me saying it was good. It just means that my decision to leave my pocket knife behind wasn't necessary. In fact, I can not say the movie was good, because that would be an outright lie.
Let's start with one of my biggest grievances with any movie like this. That is to say child actors. In the original, the movie focused on Heather O'Rourke, and Oliver Robins, two actors that I found endearing, and almost likeable. Conversely, this film is saddled with Kennedi Clements, and Kyle Catlett. The former, has such a generally flat affect that it is hard to care for her. The latter was just annoying, and offered no real redeeming features to his character (except for one spoiler, which I won't post here).
The movie does earn some points for not feeling beholden to the original. Names were changed, plot points shifted. Pretty much anything and everything from the original was able to be cut, and shaped to fit the new mold. Honestly, while I am giving it points for diverging, and being it's own animal, I feel like a few good call backs would have really helped to invoke the nostalgia that people have for the original. Sure, there were some callback lines like "They're here" or "This house is clean" but the former lacked the charm of Heather O'Rourke's delivery, and the latter was much more compelling coming from Zelda Rubenstein. Perhaps I missed a callback in there, that might have helped, but still it seems like they missed the chance to really play it up.
Another thing missing is over 20 minutes of screen time. The original film was 114 minutes long, and I never felt once like it was running over, or offering filler for the sake of filler. The remake clocks in at a barely worth the money 93 minutes, and felt like it was stuffed with filler while cutting out plot points. This movie is actually a rare occasion where the movie felt overlong, yet felt like it needed some scenes inserted to flesh things out. There is a scene, in the middle of the film where Sam Rockwell's character tries three different credit cards to purchase some items, two of them were rejected for being overdrawn. The next scene, he is coming home with a new phone, and a remote control drone... Odd that he would have such items, considering he has no money, right? There is a brief throwaway line about how he got the items, but it makes no sense, and only serves to put some new plot devices into the movie. The movie would have been better served without the credit cards.
The movie has some decent effects, but that does very little to make up for numerous shortcomings elsewhere. It's pretty, but ineffectual. Ultimately, the movie fails where it could have been at least moderately effective. Another mediocre entry on the pile of substandard film making that is the remake.
RECOMMENDATION: Go purchase the original, and give it a watch. The old school effects may seem horribly dated now, but the movie is infinitely more enjoyable than this muddy mess.
IS IT THEATER WORTHY?: No, not really. While there are some fun effects shots, and a handful of almost decent jump scares, this is ultimately nothing more than some meaningless fluff.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I wanted this to be good, I really did. But, it never breaks through mediocrity, and seems quite content to wallow in that same mediocrity.
FINAL SCORE: 5 0ut of 10