Directed by Gil Kenan
Starring Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris
The dark profile of a young girl staring intently into a flickering television screen has troubled us at various levels since the first Poltergeist in the 1980s. Televisions were objects of fancy then, and soon of insidious comfort, expanding from living rooms to bedrooms, crowding out conversations.
This reboot of that old classic, which carried an indelible Steven Spielberg imprint, reduces all that television meant in that film to just one level — a medium for the girl trapped in the other world. There are many more screens available in the new world that the family Bowen now inhabits — phones, tablets, and gaming consoles — but the film still falls back on TV, and does hardly anything with it.
Almost entirely a copy, and with hardly any improvement over the old Poltergeist, this is a film where nothing appears new. Except for the use of 3D and a strategically used camera-mounted drone. The first is pointless, the second ridiculous.
The girl in danger is Maddy (played by Clements), and her parents are the out-of work Eric (Rockwell) and the “budding writer” Amy (Rosemarie). She also has a hyper-nervous elder brother, Griffin (Catlett), who first picks up things are wrong in the new house they have moved into. Completing the family is Maddy’s sulking teen elder sister.
The house is in a slightly run-down neighbourhood as Eric and Amy are down on cash. As soon as they move in, “things” start to happen. By the second night, all hell has broken loose. By the third, paranormal busters (including later a TV star played by Harris) have moved in.
That’s how fast Poltergeist moves.
Then come the other nights.