Arts movie review

Poltergeist (2015): lots of action, some comedy, hardly any horror

Gil Kenan pays tribute to the 1982 classic

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Madison Bowen (Kennedi Clements) reaches out to apparitions that have invaded her home.
Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.



Directed by Gil Kenan

Starring Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements

Rated PG-13

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This remake of Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist (1982) sees a jobless couple and their three children move into a new home that fits their budget. Griffin, their ten-year-old son, lives in the attic, where he experiences frequent nightmares and finds frightening clowns in the closet. To make things worse, he also finds his younger sister Madison talking to mysterious objects through the TV in the middle of the night. “They’re here,” she claims ominously. His parents disregard his nervousness and their youngest daughter’s sleepwalking until one night, their house is attacked and Madison is taken. The Bowens discover that their house was built on what was an old cemetery, moved to make way for construction. To cut costs, the construction company moved the headstones but left the bodies — leaving the Bowens to deal with some extremely unhappy poltergeists looking to move out of the limbo they are stuck in.

The remake has some stimulating visual and sound effects — the scenes featuring the eerie clowns were particularly enjoyable. Kyle Catlett, who stars as Griffin, is convincing in his nervousness and in his role as a protective, if scared, older brother. Kennedi Clements makes an adorable Madison, compelling the audience to be concerned. The other characters and the plot, though, leave much to be desired. Sticking pretty close to the original, the changes in the remake mostly detract from it — the eccentric and enjoyable character Tangina is replaced by a tacky TV show ghost-cleanser, played by Jared Harris, making the experience much less scary and much more like parody. Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, playing the parents of the kids, do an unconvincing job pretending to care that their child has been taken. On the plus side, there was no hysteria, but their parental instinct kicked in so late in the film that it had me wondering if they were the ones behind the kidnapping. The inclusion of comedy was interesting, with some scenes being quite funny, but it seemed to add a lot of misplaced moments of humor and lent a very strange mood to the setting.

The 2015 remake pays homage to the 1982 original with action-packed sequences and great effects. Although quite enjoyable, it is, however, not half as scary as the original. I would recommend watching this movie for entertainment, but don’t expect any nightmares.