Two out of five stars
A few months back, a "Poltergeist" cast member described the movie to me as a “family adventure film.” That hardly sounded appealing. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I know what the actor meant. It is a family adventure film, kind of, though not a particularly good one. But more telling: it’s "Poltergeist." It should be a horror film.
The original "Poltergeist" from 1982 is a classic. It’s an incredibly creepy film without being graphic or bloody -- a good, old-fashioned horror thriller, and very much a product of its era. This new "Poltergeist," however, is a product of a tired Hollywood formula: a remake that lacks creativity, hoping to trade on an established brand.
This time, instead of the Freeling family, we have the Bowen family. Sam Rockwell, simply one of the best film actors on the planet, is father Eric Bowen -- out of work but level-headed, funny and extremely likable. Rosemarie DeWitt plays his wife, Amy, a writer who isn’t writing. Due to their tight money situation, they’re forced to move into a new house in a subpar neighborhood.
That house is haunted by restless spirits who are unhappy because the house -- the whole neighborhood, in fact -- is built on top of the cemetery in which they’re buried. The spirits express their displeasure by attacking the Bowens’ son with a toy clown, trying to pull their teenage daughter through the garage floor, and kidnapping the Bowens’ youngest daughter.
If you scare easily, you’ll probably find at least parts of "Poltergeist" a bit creepy. But if you’re a real fan of the genre and of the original "Poltergeist," you’ll be extremely disappointed.