Friday, 29 May 2015

Review: Poltergeist

World of Blackout Film Review

Poltergeist (2015) Poster

Poltergeist (2015) (3D)
Cert: 15 / 94 mins / Dir. Gil Kenan / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

Picture the scene. A slightly drab office interior in Hollywood, California. A battered table seats a room of weary junior film execs, tasked with reinvigorating a classic franchise for today's demanding audience. Today, 'horror' is on the agenda, and one cocksure young upstart has just the answer: "Okay you guys, what's scarier than a clown-doll?" … "Uh, I dunno Johnny, what?" … "Ha! A whole goddamn BOX of clown-dolls!"… "KER-CHING! Then they can come to goddamn LIFE with the poltergeists moving them!" Yes, welcome to #FridayAfternoonScreenwritingClub, where cliche is the currency and only the laziest survive. You'll be finished the script and in the pub by 3:30.

Because the world was crying out for a remake of Poltergeist which does absolutely nothing new with either the story or the genre.

Now in all fairness, in terms of your classic Haunted House Horror™, Poltergeist is only ever as 'bad' as the original, but it's never as good. The intervening years have not been kind to the format. The real problem with a flat-out 'remake' is that you also port over all the things (from a writing point-of-view) which make the film feel dated because they've been flogged to death in the years between the original outing and the new one. Although lets not be too precious about the 1982 flick; it was great for its time, but it hasn't aged particularly well and it spawned two unnecessary sequels and a TV series.

You've got to feel for poor old Sam Rockwell, now cast into 'dad' roles and mumbling his way through the film with an embarrassed contrition akin to a teenager who's been recognised going into a church by two classmates, and who's hoping they'll pretend they didn't see him when Monday comes. We saw you, Sam. We all fucking saw you. Luckily the pressure's taken off Rockwell in the third act when Jared Harris arrives to shoulder the enormous burden of eccentric cliché and further devalue his already patchy CV. Worse yet, Jared seems to have borrowed Colin Farrell's accent to do it with. God help us all.

And the audibly sensitive will be saddened to learn that Poltergeist is another horror flick with the volume set to 'far too high'. AGAIN. Serious questions for those of you in the know: Is the audio-level locked automatically on digital films these days, or do the projection-staff*1 get a note giving them the recommended volume? If it's the first one, is there an override? If it's the second, does anyone know of any cinemas who actively discard such 'advice' and use their common sense when it comes to not wrecking the hearing of their audience? And the 3D: yeah, whatever mate.

Oh, and how the fuck can screenwriter David Linsday-Abaire justify gimmicking-in some GPS trackers and an iPad controlled drone for the film's finale, when the lost spirits of the damned have spent the entire film beforehand disrupting every electrical item they float past??

Like its stablemates, Carrie and A Nightmare On Elm Street, Poltergeist is so close to the original film as to render it artistically pointless. Worst of all, the film is barely even 'creepy', let alone scary. As horror movies go, there's no greater failure.

Fuck it, I've seen worse.
But what kind of justification is that for a film as half-arsed as this?

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
A better option still would just be to imagine the mixture of vague disappointment and boredom you'll inevitably feel by watching this.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Get out of my house.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
…what, to make you actually miss Craig T Nelson?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I will, yes.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't, no.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Poor ol' Sam Rockwell appeared in 2005's Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, as did Warwick 'Wicket' Davis.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I know they can't really be called 'projectionists' any more, but I also know it's not the same job as the folks who serve you the popcorn.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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