Poltergeist Blu-ray Review
It seems like a nice enough community, with its sizeable homes, maintained lawns and child-friendly traffic. Never mind that spooky tree in the front yard…
After getting a good deal on the house, Eric (Sam Rockwell, THE WAY, WAY BACK) and Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt, KILL THE MESSENGER) move themselves and their three kids, teen Kendra (Saxon Sharbino, who appeared in another horror remake, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, in 2010), Griffin (Kyle Catlett, who played the title role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET) and Madison (Kennedi Clements, JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2) to the neighborhood. It’s not long, of course, before just about every aspect of the property starts displaying elements of abnormality—the trees growl, the grass pushes sticks out of the ground, the washing machine shows it has a mind of its own, etc. Apparently the Bowen family never saw POLTERGEIST—if they had, they might have consulted a paranormal investigator (Jane Adams, who appeared on HBO’s HUNG) sooner.
POLTERGEIST (available in 3D, perhaps to give the jumping squirrel scene a little more oomph) is, obviously, a remake of Tobe Hooper’s original. That version, which starred Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and the wonderful Zelda Rubinstein, was one of the key entries in the famed Summer of 1982, which ushered in classic horror and sci-fi entries such as E.T., STAR TREK II and TRON. This version, however, didn’t even leave a dent on its opening weekend.
Directed by Gil Kenan (2008’s CITY OF EMBER, 2006’s effective MONSTER HOUSE), POLTERGEIST makes all the attempts to pay homage to its inspiration, but never really amounts to much more than a few bumps. Surely it has a few creepy moments (oh no! light emitting from an iDevice!), but most of the attempts are misguided throwbacks. One of the bigger scares of the original stemmed from the scene in which young Robbie (here, Griffin) is attacked by a clown doll. In this version, the filmmakers don’t care so much about that particular scene (although it is present) as they do the look of the clown’s face and the sound of its laugh. 1982’s clown doll was disturbing because it was a clown doll; this year’s model was designed solely to scare and so it all comes off unnatural and forced. And the famous “They’re heeeeeere” scene? It seems as if young Catlett was woken from a nap to deliver the line.
The younger crowd that might be unfamiliar with the original POLTERGEIST is more likely to be spooked by what’s in front of them and dazzled by the CGI work (much of which is effective). In that regard, the movie might stick. But that has less to do with the quality than it does what a younger modern audience is used to seeing in horror movies.
If anything will stand out to the older crowd, it’s the talents of cast members Rockwell, DeWitt and Adams, who all make for fine choices and provide a little personality to an otherwise hollow effort.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The high-definition presentation offers excellent details, accurate colors, deep blacks and an overall clean image.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The audio is also strong, with clean dialogue and sound effects that greatly aid the atmosphere of the movie.
Theatrical Cut (1:33:41)
Extended Cut (1:40:53)
Alternate Ending (1:46)