A remakeboot? You so edgy, Hollywood!
What are we calling these now? Remakes? Reboots? Retreads? Whatever they're called, the clever attempt by marketing departments to make you think you just HAVE to see this version, it's an odd trend, for a couple of reasons.
First off, come on already, Hollywood people (apologies for my technical insider jargon). Is this the norm now? Think of all the horror movie remake-reboots-reimaginings-retreads-regurgitate that have happened in the last decade. It's a lot, man - Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Amityville Horror, The Thing, The Hills Have Eyes, Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre - the list goes on and on. Using a fairly complicated scientific formula that I won't bore you with by trying to explain, the actual amount of these remakes that would be considered necessary works out to be 0.0%.
The next point is people get really WORKED UP about a movie being remade. Rebooted, whatever. You can almost hear the collective fists pounding the table when some fancy Hollywood website (again, apologies for the insider jargon) announces "Fright Night remake gets green-light!" followed by indignant wails of "HOW DARE THEY RUIN THIS CLASSIC FILM?" Well, relax, Chachi.
A remake does nothing to the original. Zero. Zilch. It's not replacing it, it's not erasing it from the official record. The original is still there, bad '80s special effects and all. If you live your life thinking that any one single piece of film in Hollywood is sacred, then you are in for a life of disappointment. The remake is just a different movie, using much of or at least loosely based on, the original movie. And, guess what else? This isn't Russia or North Korea: you do not have to watch it.
"But how will the world know my displeasure if I don't go see the Poltergeist reboot and complain about it on the internet?!?" If you find yourself in this particular dilemma, here's a good rule of thumb to follow: SHUT UP. Nobody cares if you liked the movie or not, you pretentious windbag.
Rest assured, I was on the internet in minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.
Now, relax and listen to me talk about if I liked the movie or not.
Digging deep into my fancy vocabulary bag of holding, I'd have to say that 2015 Poltergeist "wasn't bad." I thought the Bowen family was written with the same spirit as the Freeling family in the original 1982 version - playful, easy-going. The atmosphere of the home was appropriately PG-13 horror, and the strange happenings begin early.
There were a couple of disappointing things about this when compared to the original, and it's a trend with nearly all the remakes-reboots-reimaginings-retreads. Since we horror movies lovers went through our little "torture porn" phase in the early 2000s, subtlety is long gone, and that's unfortunate. Not much is left to the imagination anymore, and as a result, real suspense is almost out the window. Remember the clown doll from the original? Of course you do; it was creepy as hell. That damn thing scarred a generation of kids. So of course, we'd better overdo the clown thing for the remake! And, like, I didn't really want to see what was in the infamous closet that eats little suburban white girls. That was a mystery left in your head in the original. Where'd she go? What's in there? What's with the strawberry yogurt goo? Sadly, we get all up in that closet this go-around, and, well...meh.
And frankly, the way the house crumbled and imploded into nothing at the end of the original...that was AWESOME, man! Not so in 2015.
Aside from that, director Gil Kenan (whose resume includes one foray into something horror-y sounding, 2006's Monster House, which was actually an animated fantasy-comedy kinda thing and, you know, not scary) does a serviceable job with the scares, and also (likely inadvertently) manages to work in an homage to the squirrel from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The cast is decent (although I'll take JoBeth Williams over Rosemarie DeWitt any day of the week); however, I wished they had figured out a way to cameo Craig T. Nelson yelling at the big, bad housing developer "WHYY? WHYYYYYYYY?!?" One of the finest moments in cinema history, really.
So, I don't have a rating system, but if I did, Poltergeist 2015 would rate somewhere between a decently made Italian BMT from Subway and that moment right when you're just getting into a massage from your significant other, before something interrupts it (a kid, fire alarm, home invasion).
P.S. I will offer one horror movie that is in dire need of a remake: IT. (As of now, it's happening, although, they just lost their director, so who knows.) But the original, 1990 version is awful. If you still think it was scary, but you haven't watched it more than a few years, give it another watch - holy hell, it's painful. Made for TV? And the cast: Jack Tripper, John-boy, Venus Flytrap, and Judge Stone? Did the producers just send out a casting call for forgettable TV actors? Yes, Tim Curry was great as Pennywise, but that wasn't nearly enough to carry the 179-minute long bland-fest without cringing and weeping. It's not a classic, it's not sacred, and needs to be redone ASAP...but could you make it scary this time? KTHXBAI.