By Kian Kiasaleh | Writer
May 27, 2015
As the old saying goes, don’t judge a remake by its original.
No matter how well-made, the contemporary rendition of a classic movie usually faces preconceived criticism. The stakes are higher considering the original movie has successfully cemented itself into the viewer’s mind as the only way to tell the story. Directors and producers of the remake often struggle between maintaining the delicate balance of remaining loyal to the movie’s roots and adding new elements. These remakes are highly scrutinized and it is considered a remarkable feat to create one that isn’t considered an inferior replica.
Director Gil Kenan took on the ambitious task of remaking Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classicPoltergeist. Kenan tackles modernizing the film with obvious alterations such as having the children glued to their technology rather than playing outside, upgrading the television box into a flat screen as well as reshaping the family attitude from unity to disconnect. Kenan also infuses his prior experience with children’s fantasy films such as Monster House and City of Ember into the eerie special effects. The infamous clown is far more sinister this time around the ghost attacks are executed with such finesse that it’s almost beautiful…but unsettling nonetheless.
However, in the age of advanced technology, special effects alone aren’t going to cut it. This Poltergeist remake has been said to suffer the same problem as fellow horror films – cheap thrills taking over the plot. The young daughter, Maddy, getting dragged up the stairs by the supernatural force is thrilling, at least for a few seconds. A solid narrative truly drives a movie. Many considered chief absence of this remake to be proper development – of characters and the storyline. Recent horror films cling to “ambiguity,” leaving many details out and jumping straight to the scares.
The movie was released on March 22nd and as of now has grossed over $26 billion. Despite mixed reviews, Kenan and the team of screenwriters stand strong behind their vision for their present-day perspective of the horror classic.