Poltergeist

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It would be more fun to sit in front of a TV with your hands pressed up against the screen, than to watch the “Poltergeist” remake at the movie theater.
Movie Review #973

poltergeist

As the great Mel Brooks once said, “hope for the best, expect the worst.” I’m not referring to “Poltergeist”, because it’s a hopeless movie, so it’s completely illogical to hope for the best in it. I’m applying the adage to the future of movies, as I foresee it. I can only hope that, three decades from now, there still will exist such a thing as cinematic art. My expectations aren’t so bright. The term “cinema” could very likely feel antiquated thirty years from now. No doubt movies will be 20 bucks a pop, and rest assured, it’ll feel like buying an indulgence, not paying for admission.

I don’t think “Poltergeist” wants to actually scare us. Considering what the seminal ’80s movie did, it doesn’t have a chance, but it’s a letdown seeing it not even try to scare us. The only thing that’ll really frighten you hear is that the dreadful “Poltergeist” remake is that it’s a physical manifestation of the predictions I have listed above. It’s about ninety minutes long, and it doesn’t even have the dramatic depth to warrant that length. Where the 1982 classic felt quick and tense, this version feels amazingly uneventful. And for no particular reason, the movie is in 3-D. I find that even more confusing, now that I’ve seen it. I would have preferred to see that in 2-D, but even more than that, I would have preferred not to see it at all. I guess the purpose of remaking “Poltergeist” in 3-D was for money, but even so, this movie debuted at #4 at the box office. And despite its relatively small budget of $35 million, it has yet to turn a profit.

The thing is, the actors are still getting paid, no matter what kind of money the movie makes. Apparently that’s all that’s on their minds. Seeing Sam Rockwell’s name on the one-sheet, one would think he’s the most talented performer here, but in truth, he’s the sorriest money-grubber of the crowd. Sadly, he’s just the tallest in a (thankfully) small line of actors and actresses that appear in “Poltergeist”. I would like to think that the audition tapes for “Poltergeist” played a bit like the famous “Gimme the keys!” scene from “The Usual Suspects”, and that director Gil Kenan selected his cast based on who could deliver the line “Gimme the paycheck!” the best. Unfortunately, there is nothing in this movie that could be nearly that clever, or that interesting. One might note, however, that the child actors here are far better than any of the adult actors. I would assume that’s because they’re too young to understand the concept of making money.

Over time, I’ve begun to realize a pattern developing in horror movie remakes. A good rule of thumb is to skip every remake of an American horror movie unless you want to make fun of it the entire time. The results when an American director remakes a foreign horror film tend to be hit and miss, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a decent American remake of an American horror movie. Americans trying to redo what Americans have already done is like inbreeding. If it can’t already be inferred, the remake of “Poltergeist” is saddening in a way that makes you feel bad for it. It’s awfully unworthy for us to it the original masterpiece, even if the only linkage is a quality-neutral term like “remake.” I’d assume the idea of remaking “Poltergeist” was rooted in nostalgia from the very beginning, and if it means anything, you leave the theater wanting to revisit the original movie.

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