Dir:Gil Kenan (2015)
Gil Kenan updates Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg‘s original 1982 frightener, somewhat lazily, adding video games, drones and mobile phones in an attempt to rejuvenate the pretty mild televisual horror of it all for our little screen obsessed younger generation. Sam Rockwell and Rosmarie DeWitt (two fine actors) have little to really grasp onto here as the parents of 3 youngsters relocating to a new suburban home in the midst of a financial crisis. The house (where ever it may be built) doesn’t seem to want them there but Kenan barely steps outside of Hooper’s original blueprint; Creeping trees, the ominous glow of a static on a tv screen and a odd little clown doll do nothing to sharpen this rather unnecessary remake.
Kenan and writing partner David Lindsay-Abaire barely care about the parents; He’s a laid off something something, she’s a failed writer or something something but Poltergeist is really about the kids. Saxon Sharbino as a text and tv star obsessed 15 year old girl is perhaps the biggest yawn of a character on show here. Kyle Catlett (The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet) fairs well as the middle child, blaming himself for the ghostly disappearance his little sister, Madison (Kennedi Clements). Zelda Rubenstien’s icon ghostbuster is replaced here by a paranormal specialist (Jane Adams) and a reality TV medium (served with large slices of ham by Jared Harris).
It’s a fairly efficient step by step horror remake but fails to deliver anything remotely interesting; Merely presenting the original with a few more techno bells and whistles. Kenan’s version also shaves a half an hour of run time off Hooper’s 2 hour version to make it multiplex safe; 90 minutes with their phone turned off is, after all, what scares most kids. Where by Hooper turned the image of a TV tuned to static into one of horror’s most iconic images it’s impossible to see how this pretty limp update can make anyone scared of our obsession with the old black mirror…