So it’s been ages since I wrote a movie review on my blog, so I found it fitting I do it of the 2015 remake of “Poltergeist.” The original is one of my favorite scary movies of all time, and personally I don’t feel it needed to be remade. Sure some of the effects by today’s standards are pretty bad, but back in the day the meat crawling and bathroom bake-light scene caused people to get sick. It’s still a great story, and the remake is really nothing more than more evidence that Hollywood is out of ideas and is too afraid to take chances on new things. So was the remake worth it? Was it good? That’s what this review tackles.
THERE ARE SOME BASIC PLOT SPOILERS HERE! If you’ve seen the original, it won’t ruin anything.
For the most part, the movie is a direct remake of the original, with some changes. The movie brings certain things into the modern era. For example the family is down on their luck, with the dad having been laid off, which is why they move into the development. Unlike the original, where the development was brand new and the dad worked for the developers, it’s been there awhile in this version. All the locals know the story of the moved cemetery, and many of the homes are now dirt cheap because of foreclosures. They don’t tell you why though, they leave that up to you. Is it the economy? Or the ghosts?
The technology in the film has been brought up to the digital age, which really means that there should not be any white noise/snow channels for Carol Anne (now called Maddy) to communicate on. The new version has the spirits able to manipulate the electricity in the house, including iPads and cellphones. They never outright say it, but they hint this has to do with the major powerlines that are showb going over the house and the development. When the house goes nuts one night, Maddy is sucked into the closet by the dead. The storyline pretty much progresses the same as the original from here on out.
A major disappointment is they failed to update the film based on current ideas about ghosts. For example, they never explain the idea that ghosts can feed off energy, which is why the power-lines are important, but they leave that up to the viewer to guess about. Also most researchers now believe poltergeists aren’t really spirits or souls of the dead, but psychic energy that is unleashed from someone going through a stressful period, such as the loss of a job or teens going through puberty. They could have gone this way with this version, but then it would have drastically altered the storyline. So they stuck with the old definition of “a noisy entity.” Many scenes from the original are still there, as is much of the same dialogue, though some have been altered. The bake-light scene has been updated and isn’t nearly as gory as the original. Much of the building suspense of the original, such as Maddy/Carol Anne’s interaction with “The TV People,” is gone.
Another major disappointment is that they turn the parapsychologist (played by Jane Adams) into an awkward bumbling buffoon, which if you’ve ever seen Adams is a role she plays well. The Tangina character is now a Zak Bagans/Ghost Hunter reality TV star. Both come off as more or less jokes in the movie, and completely downplay the scientific seriousness of the original.
One of the most iconic scenes that scared most people, the clown scene, is a huge letdown. They had an amazing setup to make it great, and it falls flat.
There are a few nice additions to the movie, for example some minor exploration of the other side beyond the closet, which was lacking in the original. Fans of the original movies will also notice a few scenes seem to actually be from the second movie and are thrown in for fun. A bumper sticker also pays homage to the original director Toby Hooper.
It’s worth seeing for die hard fans of the original, because most like me want to see if they stayed true to the film or wrecked it. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, it just is what it is. If you’ve never seen the original, I would say watch it after you see the remake just so you realize how the film should have been done.
All images found via google images and property of the film/studio.