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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Poltergeist 2015 * Star

Poltergeist 2015Director: Gil Kenan
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * Star
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie Dewitt, Jared Harris

Over the past few years, I've seen dreadful, horror film remakes in A Nightmare On Elm StreetCarrie, and Evil Dead. 2015's Poltergeist (my latest review) continues this trend of mediocrity, of unnecessity. But here's the rub. It's far more awful than the vehicles just mentioned. In fact, this is the worst re-imagining of any cinematic endeavor that I've ever had the displeasure of viewing. Director Gil Kenan sticks to the basic blueprint of 1982's original only to not respect nor honor anything that made it emotionally (not to mention eerily) effective. Gone this time around is the creepy, lullaby-themed music. Gone is the Spielbergian virtues. Gone is the devastating pool scene where actual human skeletons pop up (I'm not kidding). Gone is the disgusting face peeling sequence. Gone is the everyman, suburban California landscape where doofus adults ride tyke bikes and spill beer all over the place (the setting is replaced by the state of Illinois, boring). Gone is the hip, pot smoking couple that was charismatically played by JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson (the hubby and wife from the new version drink instead, also boring). And gone are the scares cause there ain't any of em'. In truth, I almost wanna call this Poltergeist reboot borderline comedic. The tagline back then was "they're here". The tagline this time around is "they're out to lunch".

Basing its proposition on a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, 2015's version has a running time that is fairly shorter than the original. That doesn't however, make it any leaner, meaner, or tighter. This is truly perfunctory filmmaking in rough draft form. Nothing contained is out of the box or in a sense, updated (except for the aspect of today's technology being cell phones, iPads, and glossed over CGI). Yes the 1982 relic didn't have a whole lot of buildup while containing a few plot holes along the way. It did though, scare the bejesus out of you. Now we cut to 2015 and it takes about 20 minutes (I checked my watch) for evil forces to start their habitual hauntings. The way the newer version is supposed to frighten you (it didn't at all frighten me) is to provide systematic jolts. You don't feel as if you're watching a haunted house movie though. It just feels like you're walking through an actual haunted house or funhouse. You can sense the adage of ghosts and specters coming out from around the corner to yell "boo". You can also tell that every scare tactic hits its mark with some stage hand pulling a lever or two at approximately the right moments. Mindless? Yup. Laugh-inducing? You betcha. Oh and I almost forgot, there's the place where the family of the new version inhabits. In the original Poltergeist, everyone lived in a middle to upper class domain deemed modernized and relegated to suburbanite suture. In this luckless reboot, the residential area seems haunted right off the bat, like someone died there or some serious ruckus went down. If I was a realtor showing said dormant abode, I'd be ashamed of myself.
Now with this new vision of Poltergeist, comes the changing of the character's names, the location, and the ending which is anti-climatic in the highest regime. What is possessed here is a hack job, a rushed production, and something that would have Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg laughing their butts off if they ever decided to attend a screening. The plot follows the same notes as what went down over thirty years ago. Only this time, the family featured, doesn't have jobs, an income, or one iota of self-esteem. The question I asked myself was, are we supposed to feel sympathy or an aura of despair for these people? I'm thinking no. The script idea in question, probably only looked good on paper. I mean if you took a gander at the Freeling family from 82', everybody was more likable and seemed made up of better actors/actresses. They didn't come off as losers looking for a shoulder to cry on. Anyway, the new clan (the Bowens) consist of Eric Bowen (played by Sam Rockwell who is too talented to star in this muck), Amy Bowen (played by Rosemarie Dewitt), Kendra Bowen (played by Saxon Sharbino), Griffin Bowen (played by Kyle Catlett), and Madison Bowen (played by Kennedi Clements who sounds like the late Heather O'Rourke, looks kind of like Heather O'Rourke, but can't quite deliver her lines in the same, effective realm as Heather O'Rourke). They move into a rundown house (to scrape by) not knowing of the wicked entity hidden underneath the ground (in the form of graves with the gravestones missing). As the proceedings move along in a hasty, inadequate fashion, the "poltergeists" steal young Madison away because she can quote unquote, "lead them into the light and get them out of purgatory." That's when the Bowen family calls in psychic extraordinaire, Carrigan Burke (played by Jared Harris). He has his own TV show but now he's got actual, hard up demons to deal with. If you've viewed the original, you'll get an idea of what happens next. Young Madison is trapped in a flat screen, a rope is used, and paranormal investigators are staked out in GPS fashion. By this time, I was more interested in catching Ghost Adventures on high-definition.

Of note: If you are wondering about the middle child (a young boy) getting swallowed up by a tree (like in the original), well it doesn't really happen. Very tension-free. And if you are wondering if the same boy (Griffin) gets manhandled by a clown, well it comes off as filler. Give me the velvet, circus freak from 82' any day compared to this goofish, wooden puppet. In truth, I wanted to exit the theater during this moment. Unfortunately, it's something I said I would never do.

In conclusion, if you've never ever seen a horror flick before, you'd still not get goosebumps or chills from the 2015 version of Poltergeist. I feel the only reason why this thing ever got greenlighted, was to generate profit. The filmmakers and the studios could sucker a new generation of fans into ponying up their hard earned dollars. This would be to experience a mere sterilized revamping of a classic. In hindsight, the word poltergeist means a ghost or other supernatural being responsible for physical disturbances such as loud noises and objects thrown around. This current release only softens that notion and is not worthy of the title.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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