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The traumatizing tree casting spooky shadows. A creepy clown silently staring. That terrifying television displaying spine-chilling static. Yep, those were all iconic moments from the Tobe Hooper original version of Poltergeist which was released back in 1982. Skipping ahead to 2015, director Gil Kenan hopes to recreate some of the nostalgic neurosis that went hand-in-hand with its predecessor at the time. The question becomes, with all of the modern day effects available (and yes this one will be available in 3D), can this reboot offer enough substance to please the modern day moviegoer or will it fall into the growing list of underwhelming remakes that would have been better left in the past?

An unlucky family encounters a supernatural force in their home that has the most insidious (see what I did there) of intentions. These apparitions wreak havoc on the family in an attempt to terrorize them at every turn and it appears as though no one is safe. This becomes painfully evident when the daughter is taken. The family will do whatever it takes to get her back but nothing is guaranteed. The Bowens have a major fight on their hands and are ill-equipped to handle this battle on their own. They must come to grips with the fact that what is going can’t be solved by the police and therefore need to look elsewhere for help.

Sam Rockwell plays the patriarch of the Bowen family while Rosemarie DeWitt portrays his wife, Amy. The main focus of this horror thriller is the youngest daughter, Maddie played by Kennedi Clements. All eyes are seemingly fixed on her throughout the movie. A few other faces that may be familiar to audiences are those of Saxon Sharbino (Fox Television’s Touch) who plays Kendra Bowen, Jane Adams (Showtime’s Hung) who plays Dr. Brooke Powell and Jared Harris who plays Carrigan Burke. Of all of these actors, Sam Rockwell was the only one to bring his A-game to Poltergeist. He is a delight on the screen mixing in humor as well as great parental concern when called for. As for the others, they can all be lumped into the same category as ones that weren’t terrible but they also didn’t do anything that made them memorable. Casting only seems to stand out when it’s done admirably or when the parts just don’t seem to fit well together. Unfortunately for the most part the casting falls into the latter category.

This remake of Poltergeist finds itself in quite the quandary which ultimately ends up being its own undoing. Should director Gil Kenan take the concept of the 1982 version but do something completely different and unexpected thus making this his own story or should he maybe just should play it safe by keeping everything virtually the same? Thirty years ago a movie about a haunted house with little to no gore could do well. Like it or not we live in a “show me” cinema age where imagination is just a word people say. Fans of the original will most likely find this new version a disappointing attempt at capturing a deep rooted fear that has festered for many years. Newcomers to Poltergeist will probably become quickly bored with the lack of intensity or jump moments. Either way, the entire body of work is underwhelming and will be best enjoyed at home on your own television at a deeply discounted price.

Poltergeist is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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