Poltergeist is a bit like a rural countryside couple who win the lottery. They have lots of money, and no idea what to do with it, and eventually they end up wasting it all in an extravagant, but ultimately pointless way.
Recently, the horror genre has had somewhat of a resurgence, in quantity if not quality, and largely responsible for that is the production company Blumhouse (all but one of the trailers before my showing of Poltergeist had that name attached to them). They reason they’ve been able to be so prolific is that the films they make are so cheap, so even if only seven and a half people see them at the cinema, they still make a profit. This film was made for an estimated $35 million, not much in the great scheme of things, but a lot more than it needed, and I can confirm that it was a huge waste.
The only remotely scary moments were the quiet, tense shots. As soon as the big budget, effects heavy moments started, any hint of fear disappeared. It’s a shame, because the actors are clearly doing as well as they can, and even the children are pretty decent. Having said that, it’s not just the bad and misused effects that the actors have to deal with. The script is very poor.
The only film in recent memory that had worse ‘funny moments’ than this is Jupiter Ascending. That should tell you everything you need to know. You could argue that humour isn’t important in a horror film, but when it’s so jarring that it takes you out of the moment, it matters. On top of that, the characters in this film are so inconsistent, having character traits set up early on, only to have them completely go against what little we know about them. You also have children acting and speaking as if they’re adults, which is always a sign of bad writing.
I haven’t seen the original Poltergeist, but it can’t be much worse than this. In an era when people are desperate for a ‘higher quality’ of horror films, this is a real missed opportunity. To the film’s credit, it does feature a literal box of clowns, which is potentially the scariest thing imaginable.
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