Director: Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember)
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Producers: Nathan Kahane, Roy Lee, Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Jane Adams
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 93 min.
Film remakes have a stigma marked against them that probably isn’t entirely deserved, but it’s hard to argue with the ratio of unnecessary ones out there to those that actually improve upon their predecessor. The horror genre is probably the most frequent producer of remakes, as most of them tend to adhere to one of about a half dozen basic formulas, so why not add a brand name to the mix if you’re going to be taking on such a similar story anyway. That’s the case with Poltergeist, director Gil Kenan’s recreation of the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg hit from 1982. In the decades since that first film told the story of a quaint American family whose house was haunted by a group of disgruntled spirits, there have been countless horror entries offering up the same basic premise in slightly titled ways. Instead of trying for a new spin on the recycled formula, Kenan and writer David Lindsay-Abaire opted to just go back and redo the original so they can add an iconic title onto their prepackaged routine of generic thrills.
This Poltergeist doesn’t do nearly enough to justify its existence in the pantheon of pointless remakes, as it seems to have no interest in offering up anything fresh against what is still a heavily watched original picture. Tobe Hooper’s film is regularly played in homes all across the world, so what’s the point in making a new feature that’s essentially the same thing? Kenan and Lindsay-Abaire don’t bring a modern spin to this effort in any real way, instead just playing the exact same beats that worked before except this time there are iPads and plasma televisions. You can’t blame them for trusting an old standard, but what they failed to realize is that as nostalgic as people can be for the original Poltergeist, the concept itself is quite dated in terms of what audiences require today. Hooper’s film still works as a product of its era, but the premise of an overly generic white suburban family haunted by supernatural spirits in a PG-13 throwdown isn’t something that translates well to the modern age.