Poltergeist - I Was Cheering for the Evil Spirits

Matthew Parkinson | 23 May 2015 16:00
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Directed by Gil Kenan. Produced by Roy Lee, Sam Raimi, and Robert G. Tapert. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Release date: May 22, 2015.

Out of all the things we needed from the movies, I'm pretty sure a remake of Poltergeist was relatively low on the list, likely sitting a slot or two below a third Machete movie. Poltergeist is an oft-fondly remembered horror movie from the '80s that Steven Spielberg produced and co-wrote - and, according to some sources also directed - and its imagery is so iconic that it's been parodied to the point that it's no longer scary. Sure, a remake could have fixed that by changing things up - the first Insidious, after all, was little more than a Poltergeist remake - but did anyone really expect that to happen? This is as lazy a remake as there is, adding nothing of value to cinema - this includes being entertaining. But, hey, whatever makes money, right?

The premise is as basic as they come. A family moves into a suburban home, only to learn that it's haunted by vengeful spirits called "poltergeists." Why? Something vague enough that it doesn't matter. I think this version of Poltergeist actually makes fun of a Family Guy episode with an awkward, out-of-place line midway through, which speaks about how high its priorities are. So, it's a haunted house movie. Are you tired of these yet? What was the last good one we got? Was it Insidious? I guess The Conjuring would fit that role.

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The family members: Eric (Sam Rockwell) is the father who just got laid off, prompting the move; Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is the mother who writes but hasn't written lately because of reasons; Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is a teenager who serves no purpose in the movie; Griffin (Kyle Catlett) is the film's "lead" who is scared of everything for no reason; and Maddy (Kennedi Clements) is the youngest who talks to the spirits and eventually gets kidnapped.

Normally I wouldn't bother describing the characters in such a way, but I did it to make a point: this is all that there is to each one of these characters. They're so paper-thin that you begin to wonder why we should be caring about them. Even if the original Poltergeist isn't particularly scary at this point, it still brings us a wonderful family about whom we begin to care. This one? I was rooting for the poltergeists. The parents are boring and the kids are annoying.

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