Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Poltergeist

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A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

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Cast

Sam Rockwell – Eric Bowen

Rosemarie DeWitt – Amy Bowen

Jared Harris – Carrigan Burke

Kennedi Clements – Madison Bowen

Kyle Catlett – Griffin Bowen

Saxon Sharbino – Kendra Bowen

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Bad Parenting

One of my main irritants during this movie was the fact young Maddie’s parents couldn’t have been more relaxed about the fact their daughter had vanished into thin air (and into the television set).
Eric and Rosemary Bowen are not just laid-back, they’re fucking horizontal; the scene where they discover their daughter has disappeared is nothing short of tame. The facial expressions, the dialogue, are the polar opposite of ‘effective’. In fact, they notice Maddie is inside the television – slight surprise – and then they continue as normal. From this moment and for the next forty-five or so minutes, there is no tension. No displays of the possible tragic loss of their daughter. Hardly even any tears. The performances given by the two lead actors as victims of supernatural abduction were (‘scuse my lingo) – FUCKING HORRIFIC. I don’t even mean a good horrific; I mean the atmosphere created by DeWitt and Rockwell was the stuff of a teenage college production.

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Ok, ok, maybe I shouldn’t compare a re-make to its original – BUT – this movie should not have been produced. Director Gil Kenan has a lot to answer for, interfering with one of history’s most famous horror movies.
I remember (and own copies of) Poltergeist, Poltergeist II & Poltergeist III. Growing up, they honestly scared the crap out of me with scenes of suspense and jumpy frights. But what made it more involving was the reaction of litltle Carol-Anne’s parents; the upset and hysterical crying (mainly performed by the mother) laced the movies with the emotional atmosphere they needed, ensuring the story was both a horror and something the viewer could sympathise with. I was just a child back then, but even I found the whole distraught parent thing eerie and slightly disconcerting – but it did the job; a ghost story not just centered around frightened children but their parents as well. Actors JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson did a wonderul job back then, leaving big shoes to fill..

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..which Rosemarie DeWitt and Sam Rockwell failed miserably to even fit a toe in to.
Awful performances from the pair of them. Their sense of loss was that of ‘lost cat’ more than ‘lost daughter’.
Bad parents.

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Just Plane Stupid

Shortly after Maddie is ‘taken’, occult specialist Carrigan (Harris) arrives to help the family get her back.
And the first plan hatched is to send one of her brother’s toys into the light to guide her out of the vortex. A toy drone which contains a built-in camera. I sat there, arms folded with a frown on my face and my mouth hanging open – and I was watching this with a friend, so clearly vocalised out loud, “what the FUCK?..”

I thought it was a toy plane at first. Their daughter is trapped in a ghostly purgatory and the plan they all come up with is to raid the toy chest. I thought back to the original (good) Poltergeist where the same scenario took place, and compared them:

– devoted parent tied to rope, bravely entering the vortex to save daughter. Eventually exiting, covered in sticky slop whilst lovingly embracing their daughter. A moving scene radiating a sense of ‘birth’; both parent and child coming out of a dark void covered in gunk. Quite powerful.

– devoted parent picking up a remote control and floating a toy drone into the vortex which hovers through a tunnel of ghosts, sending a live feed back to the room of spectators

I was in awe of how wonderfully shit this movie was turning out to be. The producers clearly thought adding a dash of ‘present day tech’ would be a refreshing approach.

..wasn’t.

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No Neighbours

This is my pet hate and legit query during movies where something massive takes place in a person’s home on a residential street:

WHERE ARE THE NEIGHBOURS?

As all the paranormal stuff kicks off in this movie, various things happen – flickering lights, trees coming to life in the front yard, explosions, screaming..

..and not a neighbour in sight. Not even curtains being parted in a window across the street.

As mentioned above, I was watching this movie with a friend and near the end of it turned to her and said something like, “where the hell are all the neighbours?!” – to which she replied, “that’s what I just said”.
So I’m not the only one who wonders this during these sorts of movies. Same with the Paranormal Activity series; family being tormented in their own home by something – yet no one around them, up or down the street realise what’s going on. There are neighbours a few footsteps away and they either:

A) remain blissfully unaware (and conveniently deaf) of the screaming, flashing lights and banging as they sit watching the 9 o’clock news

B) are never called upon by the lead characters for help.

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The first thing I would do is run next door and find someone to help, or scream down the street for people. The lack of awareness on the neighbours part in horror movies gets on my nerves. On the plus side I suppose it adds to the alienation of the main character and his / her situation, but I am also raising a valid point – why does the entire street seem to be on holiday when the shit kicks off?
(I’ll let Home Alone slide. The families on that block seemed to holiday on exactly the same days, so had an excuse).

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My review of Poltergeist ends here, because it actually annoys me to think about it.
To sum it up, this remake of 80’s classic Poltergeist is an absolute insult to the originals. It literally opens, throws some scares at the audience, and then ends. I was surprised at how fast it happened; as the ending credits rolled I felt like it was one of the quickest films I’ve ever seen at the cinema. It moves at such a fast pace that it contains no substance, no proper structure. Loosely produced, it’s as though the producers made a brand new movie, but threw in elements from Poltergeist. For example, new characters and story – but contains the famous ‘little girl and television’ scene.

Was this a remake or not?!
Because if it was supposed to breathe new life into the old horror classic, it failed spectacularly. If you’re a fan of the original Poltergeist movies I would strongly urge you to avoid this one. It will only end in disappointment.
If I could rent this, I would not.
If I spotted it in a ‘bargain bin’ for a matter of pennies – I would not purchase it.
If a person handed it to me as a gift – I would hand it back.

In fact, just avoid it altogether.

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This entry was posted on June 4, 2015 by .
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