Directed by Gil Kenan
I realize it’s de rigueur for hardcore horror movie fanatics to hate on remakes. But did you know Poltergeist was directed by the same guy who did the delightful and very original spookfest Monster House? Gil Kenan is a true lover the genre, and he knows what appeals to kids of all ages. (Let’s not forget: Poltergeist is, and was, a movie about childhood terrors, and the primo audience is teens and young parents).
The screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire, is no slouch either. He’s won the Pulitzer Prize and has successfully told stories through cinema, stage, and even musicals. Then we have producer Sam Raimi, who is basically a god in the arena of geekdom. The lead actor, Sam Rockwell, doesn’t just take any flick that comes down the pike – he owned the roles he played in The Green Mile, Joshua, Choke, and Moon.
In other words, Poltergeist has got the goods.
But is it a good movie? Yes. Good. Not great, but it ably delivers on everything you want and expect from a big-budget 3D film based on the source material first brought to life by Stephen Spielberg and Tobe Hooper. Some of the edge is gone (no pot-puffing poppa; no spacey, small psychic), but what’s added is wittier repartee, more excitement and suspense, and better special effects.
The story follows the same basic route as the original, in that a pair of parents and their trio of kiddies move into a new house that’s been erected on top of a cemetery. The ghosts are very territorial. The names are changed (there’s no Carol Anne), but each character is pretty much the same. There is smart character-building so that when the horror starts to happen, we actually like and care about those who are in danger. And yep – the clown doll is back, and he’s creepy as hell.
To me the 3D aspect was unnecessary. I can understand why it makes sense – the netherworld is indeed a deep, dark, and scary place full of crevasses and burgeoning corpses – but I think the movie will be just as effective in traditional 2D.
The scares are there, but for anyone like me and you, who have seen approximately a bazillion horror movies and know the tropes, they are more like old friends than sleep-stealing foes. It’s an exciting movie, a fun romp that’s well acted and nicely paced; it’s just not especially affecting in the traumatization department. You’ll sleep just fine after seeing Poltergeist (but do see it).