So far this year alone in sequels, reboots, and remakes I’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Insidious: Chapter 3, and Jurassic World. Even if I didn’t enjoy most of those movies (I did) I’d still understand the fatigue folks are feeling with the oversaturation of rehashed cinematic properties. Of all the reboots, remakes & sequels I’ve seen recently, though, none have felt quite as pointless as the recent Poltergeist rehashing. When considered on its own, the new Poltergeist is passable as a decent genre exercise, I guess. It just doesn’t add enough to the original film’s formula to justify its own existence. If it were just any haunted house film Poltergeist (2015) would’ve been just okay, but it’s pedigree as a remake burdens its mediocre charms with way too much to live up to.
I’m not saying that the original Poltergeist film is a perfect work or art that shouldn’t be touched by lesser life forms. It’s just that updating its exact story with a few isolated cultural markers like flat-screen televisions, drone-operated cameras, and reality television isn’t really the kind of creative motivation that screams necessity. Both films share a goofy, childlike approach to horror & find their creep-outs in unlikely places like trees, suburban neighborhoods, precocious children, and television static. It’s just much less effective the second time around, more than three decades letter, with just a few faces & fashions swapped out as a means of making it fresh again.
I’m not usually this down on the idea of rehashing old movies, but I found very little special about the Poltergeist remake. Sam Rockwell’s always-welcome presence is the sole exciting element in play here, but he does very little to liven up the grim proceedings that surround him. I didn’t hate the new Poltergeist. I didn’t particularly like it much either. It was just kinda there, dying for a reason to exist, built on the cursed grave of a film that came long before it. You could do worse for lazy afternoon viewing if the film ever pops up on TV or streaming and you’re not sure how to kill a couple hours, but that’s hardly high praise.