“I always believed that you couldn’t polish a turd, but Poltergeist (2015) proved me wrong.”
So last night (or I guess early this morning) I watched the 2015 remake of Poltergeist and let me tell you, it was not great. Much like the original film, Poltergeist (2015) follows the Bowen family who, like their original counterparts, are having trouble with ghosts. This culminates into their youngest daughter, Madison, disappearing into her closet and the rest of the family (with the help of a charismatic ghost hunter) having to hatch a plan to get her back.
Now this movie is by no means good. It has a plethora of issues, many of which I won’t have time to go into in this review but I’m going to try my best. First of all the children in this movie are insufferable. This is both the fault of the acting and the writing which turned them into fucking spoiled brats who don’t listen to anyone. Strike one. Strike two is the fact that these now insufferable children are the fucking centrepiece of the film. Of course you have Madison (who in the first film was named Carol Anne) who is important to the main plot of the film, but why the fuck is that snot-nosed little shit that she calls a brother being hailed as the hero? I know that I sound harsh, but honestly listening to that kid whine about every fucking thing was about as pleasant as sticking my hand in a blender. And of course you have the teenage daughter who didn’t change all that much (still hates her parents and all that), but she did have a strange character arc wherein it was made out that she hated babysitting her siblings, but then we see her seemingly enjoying it. This wasn’t the fault of the character (unless she lied about hating babysitting), but the fault of the writing, and that isn’t the only one. Luckily this film has Sam Rockwell in it, but saying that he was wasted in the film would be an understatement. Instead of him reprising the role that Craig T. nelson played so wonderfully, he just became a background character no more important than the kitchen table or the sofa. And I’m not even going to discuss the wife’s acting because honestly I’m struggling to remember any part of it.
So Poltergeist (2015) remade a classic horror film, but I suppose they assumed that modern audiences had shorter attention spans. This caused the film to play out like it was constantly in fast-forward. The original film has a wonderful atmosphere to it, the remake replaces that with as many ‘scares’ as they can jam into 90 minutes. A by-product of this is the fact that, to move the plot along quicker, all of the characters already knew everything about the spirit in this movie. Instead of the paranormal experts believing that the haunting was a hoax, they immediately claim that it is a poltergeist. Instead of the big reveal being that the house was built on a cemetery, that information was used as throw-away line during a dinner party. And the one that bugs me the most: nobody cared that the house was FUCKING HAUNTED BY GHOSTS. Seriously, I don’t think I have seen two “parents” care so little about their child who is being tortured by spirits in their television. It’s funny how little depth these characters had in the film, and it is really a testament to this remake as a whole.
Now that all of the shit is out of the way (so-to-speak), I want to discuss some things that I liked about the film. So Poltergeist (2015) is of course a remake of the 1982 film Poltergeist. That’s the way it was marketed, and that is the way it was presented. I hated the film so much, that I completely rejected that fact and started looking at it as a “new experience”, which allowed me to have some fun. First of all: some references to the old film are downright disrespectful. It is obvious that the writers knew that fans of the original Poltergeist would go to the theatre to see this so they decided to pander to them by throwing in lines such as “this tree has been here longer than these houses” and other bullshit of the sort. These do not come from a place of love, but instead from a place of “oh shit, this film is nothing like the original. Quick, add in some bullshit about the tree”. But, I did say I would talk about the positives and honestly the best parts of the film were when it was comfortable being its own thing. For example, I enjoyed seeing the inside of the “ghost dimension”, which is something that the original didn’t do. I was also impressed with the new “ghost hunter” that took the pace of everyone’s favourite paranormal expert from the first film. Not only do I appreciate that they decided to go a different direction that the original film (most likely knowing full-well that would never be able to top it), but the character was actually pretty fun to watch. He reminded of the ‘Steve Irwin’ of ghosts (not only because of his accent [and I know he wasn’t Australian, that’s not what I meant], but his charm).
I also really enjoyed the effects in Poltergeist (2015) because much like the original (and other films of the era) it knew what to show and how much to show of it. Of course a lot of the effects are CGI, but the way that they were done was masterful in that they were able to mask the ‘plastic’ look that most effects have. I also appreciate the amount of times that the film opted to not use CGI, because it made it feel a bit more authentic. Of course this gets thrown out the window toward the end of the film, but I was strangely okay with it due to the effort put in throughout the rest. I also just want to mention that the ending of the film is complete dogshit and whoever wrote it should not be hired again.
I always believed that you couldn’t polish a turd, but Poltergeist (2015) proved me wrong. If you are a fan of the original film, I do not recommend this one. If you are a fan of horror films, I do not recommend this one. If you like to laugh at how bad a movie is, this one will do. And hey, you might even enjoy it legitimately.
I give Poltergeist (2015) a C