Poltergeist – USA, 2015

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‘They know what scares you.’

Poltergeist is a 2015 3D American horror film directed by Gil Kenan (who helmed animated family horror movie Monster House) from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire (Rise of the Guardians, Rabbit Hole and Robots).

Previously, a host of writers have worked on the production: Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Juliet Snowden (The Possession), Stiles White (The Boogeyman) and Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose).

A reboot of the Poltergeist film series, it was produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert (The Evil Dead) and Roy Lee (The Woman in Black; The Strangers) for MGM. It took $95,437,994 at the box office worldwide on a budget of $35 million.

Main cast:

Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones), Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, and Jane Adams.

Official synopsis:

“In a revisionist take on the classic horror film, a family struggling to make ends meet relocates to an outdated suburban home and is confronted by an angry spirit who kidnaps their youngest daughter and challenges them to band together to rescue her from the clutches of evil.”

Reviews:

“The same narrative beats still work, but it feels like a very safe route to take. In a similar fashion, the avalanche of CG effects definitely look cool and impressive, yet they do little to advance or strengthen the story. The economic forces behind remakes are easy to understand, yet beyond a desire to make money by copying a formula that worked 33 years ago, the 2015 version of Poltergeist doesn’t have much reason to exist. But it’s here.” Peter Martin, Twitch Film

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“When the scares start, Kenan does stage them with some spook-house brio. The first big paranormal attack around the film’s midpoint cuts between three different ghostly threats (one for each kid), the camera whooshing around like a slower-paced Sam Raimi picture. But the same-but-different climax lacks the urgency of the original Poltergeist—which, in the end, the newer film can’t outrun.” Jesse Hassenger, A.V. Club

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” … a fairly solid, well-directed supernatural thriller whose most serious problem is being based on a past classic, one whose key elements have already been replicated in numerous other films … For the most part, though, it’s the likable and empathetic bond between the Bowens that carries Poltergeist through to its inevitable apocalyptic end, even as it loses some of its scary hold at the point when the stakes are at their highest.” Fangoria

“Rarely has a remake felt more contractually obligated than the 2015 version of “Poltergeist.” There are a few decent performances, a nice riff on the technology fears that drove the original movie, and a centerpiece of horror that works, but never once do you get the feeling that the people behind this remake are here because of artistic passion or creative drive. They’re here because, well, somebody had to be here, so why not them?” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

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“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 that produces one beautiful sequence: a hallucinatory child abduction via the bedroom closet in the finest supernatural-suburban tradition of Spielberg, the original’s writer-producer. But aside from CGI-boosted shocks, it’s clear the new Poltergeist won’t be laid to rest before any serious tension is long gone.” Phil Hoad, The Guardian

“One of the biggest problems, however, lies in the CGI overkill, with the climax of the film suffering greatly from a plethora of fake-looking spirits and special effects that just aren’t quite believable. Mostly, however, this revamped tale owes its greatest debt to its name, which calls for the comparison of one of the greatest horror movies ever made, overlooked by one of the greatest directors to ever work in film … as a stand alone movie, it’s actually pretty entertaining and frightening. If only it wasn’t called Poltergeist.” Kalyn Corrigan, Bloody Disgusting

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“Kenan isn’t above using a few very hackneyed ideas – the clown doll with the rictus grin that turns up from nowhere, the eccentric Irish exorcist/TV ghost-hunter Carrigan Burke (played in enjoyably blustering fashion by Jared Harris). However, he knows how to crank up the tension. The film is often at its most frightening in its quieter moments, although there are plenty of storms, crashes and cries in the dark – and there’s a very ingenious use of an electric drill, as well.” Geoffrey MacNab, The Independent

“The cast largely acquit themselves well, even when deprived of much opportunity to really develop their characters. Indeed, even when one is inclined to admire the cleverness with which the remake revisits and reincorporates “Poltergeist’s” themes, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment where it improves on them, and the aura of inessentiality hangs thick over the proceedings.” Andrew Barker, Chicago Tribune

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Poltergeist 2015 is harmless, but it ultimately and unfortunately falls under the heading of unnecessary, unworthy and uninteresting remakes. Between the CG and its frequent daytime scenes there’s no doubt it looks good, and at ninety minutes it never grows tedious, but horror films — even family-friendly ones — should aim a bit higher than that.” Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“Ultimately, Poltergeist feels like a little bit of a lost opportunity … we’re left having to settle for – poor us – a good night out at the pictures, watching a fairly solid, imperfect but largely entertaining film that packs just a handful of stand-out sequences and, even though many are far from resolved, a good amount of ideas.” Brendon Connolley, Den of Geek

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Cast:

  • Sam Rockwell as Eric Bowen
  • Jared Harris as Carrigan Burke
  • Rosemarie DeWitt as Amy Bowen
  • Saxon Sharbino as Kendra Bowen
  • Kyle Catlett as Griffin Bowen
  • Kennedi Clements as Madison Bowen
  • Nicholas Braun as Boyd

Wikipedia | IMDb

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