In “Poltergeist,” the new reworking of the 1982 ghost-in-the-TV Tobe Hooper cult classic chiller, when Mom (Rosemarie DeWitt), “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” you know, of course, here’s loads to be afraid of… like crappy special effects and a story almost entirely devoid of thrills or chills.
Sam Rockwell and DeWitt are Eric and Amy, underemployed parents of three, Maddy (Kennedi Clements), Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and Kendra (Saxon Sharbino). Forced to downsize, the young family relocates to a rundown and apparently haunted home in suburban Illinois. The older kids aren’t thrilled with their new home but little Maddy loves it, immediately talking to the invisible spirits that also live there.
On their first full night in the place Maddy modernizes the most famous visual from the original film by sitting in front of the flashing big screen television. “They’re here,” she says and soon things get poltergeisty. Clown dolls attack the kids and Maddy disappears but is able to communicate with them through the television. And people say there’s nothing worth watch on TV now that “Mad Men” has gone off the air.
They discover the house was built on top of an old cemetery but are told the bodies were “moved to a nicer neighbourhood.” Freaked out, Eric and Amy call in experts, Dr. Claire Powell (Jane Adams) from the local university’s Department of Paranormal Research and reality show ghostbuster Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) to rid themselves of the pesky poltergeist and rescue Maddy from the 500 channel universe.
“Poltergeist” would more accurately have been called “Paychequegeist: Good Actors, Terrible Movie.” I hope whatever money Rockwell, DeWitt and Harris were paid for this was worth it because cash must have been the only incentive to sign on for this movie. It certainly wasn’t the script and this one is likely going to come back to haunt them
Where to start? How about Rockwell’s reaction to Maddy’s disappearance? “If we call the cops they’ll blame us,” he says, opting instead to bring in a ghostbuster to locate his youngest daughter. Or how about DeWitt’s sly smile after overhearing a lover’s tiff between Powell and Burke? Her daughter is being tormented by malicious spirits who aim to drag her to hell but, hey, laughter is the best medicine, right? Yes, it’s laughable, but for us, not her.
There is so much wrong with “Poltergeist” it’s hard to know where to begin. Sure little Kennedi Clements could probably win an award for Best Scared Face of the Year but she’s more scared than anyone in the audience for this generic reboot will ever be.