(In honor of the holiday, and in an attempt to wash the bad taste of the last few movies I watched out, I’m reposting – and rewatching – Poltergeist. Which you should, too. Because it’s awesome.)
I got the chance to see the new version of Poltergeist. And I may be in the minority, judging from the reviews, but… I really liked it. I did. And this is coming from someone who was mentally and emotionally scarred as a child by the original film, and who still feels the need to go back and watch it every once in a while.
Now, judging from the reviews, it seems like the film’s having a hard time finding an audience. The modern horror crowd doesn’t seem impressed, as the jump-scares are fairly limited (when compared to contemporary films), there’s almost no blood and guts, and nobody gets nekkid. “Boooo-ring,” they seem to be saying.
The older crowd, on the other hand, seems divided; some seem offended that their sacred cow has been touched, while others seem upset that it didn’t get touched enough. I find myself floating somewhere in the middle, but ultimately happy with the result.
Here’s the trailer, in case you’ve somehow missed it up to this point:
The story isn’t significantly different. They’ve changed the names (Carol Anne is now named Maddie, for example), but it’s still “Family moves in to house built on graveyard, oops, we forgot to move the bodies, wackiness ensues.” What has changed the most is the quality of the visual effects, and the sense behind those visual effects. The most concrete one I can point at is the closet. In the original, some demonic Beast comes flying from it, swiping and tearing at the family as they attempt to rescue the little girl; in this one it’s a bunch of rotten corpse-like ghosts; the former made little sense (even with the sequel’s explanations that it was Reverend Kane, showing the true nature of his soul, etc. etc) and seemed like an excuse to say “Hey, look what we can do!” (and cost them god-knows-how-much, while they skimped on other parts of the FX budget by using cheap real human corpses instead of latex knock-offs. Ahem.) while the latter better fits with the explanations given.
The new version moves along a bit faster than the original, and while I’m torn on that, I think I’d rather have it that way than the sometimes slow-and-bloated feel of the older film (or the way everything made nowadays has to be a bloody trilogy with each installment clocking in at 2.5 hours); the runtime felt just about right when all was said and done, hitting that sweet spot of “just long enough” that I feel I got my money’s worth but didn’t manage to get bored.
One complaint I see levied against it fairly frequently is that its not bringing anything new to the table. That a remake was unnecessary because they hit all the same points. That’s true… to a point. They have all the same basic plot points, but the presentation has been changed up a bit – and, honestly? Maddie is way more believable than Carol Anne – and damnit, I came here for a given story, and I am happy that they kept the bones of that story in tact. I’d be pissed if they had gone running in some different direction; I’m looking at you, Evil Dead. They give it a fresh spin, good effects, and get rid of Tangina and her atrocious “acting” but don’t kill the story or drown you in gore and overdone effects. What more do you want?
All in all, I was happy with it. If you get the chance – and are not of the tribe that needs buckets of blood and plenty of boobs to stay invested in a horror movie – you should check it out. It’s in the cheap-seats at most theaters by this point, so at worst you’re out like 6 bucks… and seeing Jared Harris as Irish Priest-type-not-Tangina is worth that much, easily, and that’s before the self-deprecating (and potentially alcoholic) dad played by Sam Rockwell, who is infinitely better than Coach-turned-Realtor Craig T. Nelson in the original, comes into consideration.
As a not-totally-related aside… how is it that it only cost twelve bucks for two tickets to see this movie… but $22 at the damn snack stand (for one popcorn, one drink, and some of those 3 Musketeers ice-cream bonbons)? I mean, bloody hell, people!