Film Review: Poltergeist

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Please note the following review contains spoilers throughout. 

“Clear your minds, they already know what scares you.”

Poltergeist is a remake of the original 1982 film, with a modern take – mainly incorporating the modern technology of mobile phones. The film centres on the Bowen family who move into a new home, which they soon find out rests upon a (supposedly) relocated cemetery. The discovery of a bone in the front yard, is a daunting indicator of things to come.

The film centres on the youngest child, Madison (Maddie), who is capable of interacting with the spiritual plane. Her interactions are mainly noticed by her brother, Griffen, who is the nervous child of the family, and fears anything (with good reason in this case).

The first outbreak of the poltergeist interaction comes when Kendra, the eldest, is left in charge of the two younger children whilst the parents – Eric and Amy – attend a party in the new neighbourhood. It is during the party, Eric and Amy are advised that the site the house on was once a cemetery, and during this discussion the children are attacked by different components of the house.

The parents come home, to discover the disappearance of Maddie. Whose eerie voice crackles through the television, calling out to her mother. With an inability to go to the police, as they have no idea or explanation for the events that have occurred they turn to Carrigan Burke, a parapsychologist, who explains that they are dealing with a poltergeist, not just an angry spirit. The spirits are trapped, angry and desperate and think that Maddie is their way out, into the light, which has created the poltergeist.

“They’re here.” 

Thus we are thrown into the apparent “scare factor” of the film. We see gangly spirits, clambering over one another along the walls, ceiling, and floor. They lash out at the family to ensure Maddie stays with them to lead them to the light, and forces Carrigan into “The Otherside” in order to save the family. I didn’t find this aspect of the film scary at all. The subtle frights at the being of the film worked a lot better.

My main issue lies with the ending of the film. The film just ends. The audience is left with the notion that Poltergeist 2 is possible, but Poltergeist itself is left unanswered. What happens to ghost hunter Carrigan? Does he escape from “The Otherside”, or dies leading the dead through to the white light? Will we ever see him again? It’s just not realistic enough and doesn’t provide me with an actual scare. The house is left practically levelled, but it’s not until the family is speeding off down the road that people start to come out of their homes, conveniently as a police vehicle and fire truck rush to the scene. It’s not a quick process for the house to self destruct, so you would expect the neighbours to have been pouring out prior to the family speeding off. In my opinion, the scare factor is not that scary. I need to feel that the situation/scenario is real and relatable, but in this case it just wasn’t.

If you are a fan of the original, you may be disappointed in the remake. If you are a easy scare, then Poltergeist would be great for you. It screams into NZ cinemas Thursday 21 May, 2015. Have a look at the trailer below.

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