After a family is forced to move home into a sub-urban estate they soon realise that their children are reacting pretty strangely to their new home, however they decide that it’s probably nothing to worry about (because this is a cliché horror movie and there would be no story if people reacted normally) only to come home one night to find their son in a tree, their oldest daughter distraught and not find their youngest daughter at all.
Now I haven’t seen the original so I went in not knowing any of the twists or set-pieces, and after the effective trailer I was ready to enjoy it. However I can tell you that nothing that happens in this movie is remotely surprising. From about 20 minutes in you could probably second guess every line and significant act. Sure there are some details that you probably wouldn’t have guessed like exactly how the small girl would get taken or exactly how rubbish the cgi would look. But generally everything here is irritatingly predictable.
It’s not all bad, actually I find they managed to nail one of the harder elements of movie making which is realistic and likeable characters. I did genuinely like the family despite their horror tropeness. And so you’d have thought it would be easy to get some scares because you care for the characters, well apparently not because Poltergeist never once seemed to put anyone in danger. You don’t for one second believe that anyone is in peril and this is a big problem for a horror to have.
I have to confess, I did actually start laughing at one point. There is one scene in which the syncopation between the music and the action was just straight out of drag me to hell and I couldn’t help myself. It’s moments like this that take you right out of any shred of immersion you had. Included in this list of immersion ruining moments is any scene that uses cgi, because throughout the whole film the cgi is consistently poor. And worse than that a good deal of the effects employed in the film should have been done practically, you don’t need to make something hover with cgi – just use strings and edit them out for god’s sake – just because you can do it all on a computer does not for one second mean that you should.
Overall, Poltergeist was a proper let down. The trailer promised some good scares, but any scares the film had were all in the trailer. So when things happen you are left thinking one of three things: “nice idea, saw it in the trailer” or “nice idea, but I’ve seen it done better in another movie” or crucially “well that’s just silly and rubbish”. No scary, not interesting, not original, not any good.