‘Poltergeist’ – not petrifying enough

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Film: “Poltergeist”; Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Jane Adams, Nicholas Braun, Susan Heyward and Soma Bhatia; Director: Gil Kenan; Rating: *1/2

A reboot of the iconic 1982 released Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist”, this film with the same name is a far cry from the original, a classic that was created by Steven Speilberg, Michael Grais and Mark Victor.

The original was a cleverly crafted scary film. It indulgently messed with the Freeling family’s personal comforts — their TV, their toys, the big tree in their backyard and in the process drove a sardonic skewer into the heart of the audience of that time. Don’t look under your soft, warm bed, the movie told us, because that toy, which you were wary of, may just wake up and turn murderous.

Similarly, you expect this edition to be brilliant to drive home a point.

Gil Kenan’s “Poltergeist” begins with a promise as its first frame rolls from an obscure angle and then settles on a steady footing. The camera lingers as the Newtons; Eric, a recently laid off from his job and Amy, “a homemaker and a frustrated writer”, along with their three children; Kendra, Griffin, and Madison inspect their new home at Willow Point, apparently built on a cemetery, which they were initially unaware of.

Once they settle in their new surrounding, what starts off as innocuous fun moments of whispering sweet nothings to “the presence in the room” for young Madison, gradually turns into a nightmare for brother Griffin.

After a vicious attack on the children in the house, the spirits pull Madison into their world and she is held hostage in the netherworld. Worried and desperate, they call on paranormal experts to help them find their daughter and bring her back. This forms the crux of the tale.

The writing is frivolous and shallow. It does not match the depth and expertise displayed by the original team. The characters designed by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire are paper-thin and one-dimensional with illogical character traits.

The Bowens are far too passive for people who have just lost a member of their family to malevolent forces. Their interaction lacks chemistry and hence you don’t get connected to them emotionally.

Carrigan Burke, an experienced paranormal investigator who helps the family in finding and retrieving Madison is perhaps one of the three characters the director has invested in. The other two being Griffin and Madison. The rest of cast delivers a perfunctory performance.

The tempo of the narration too, is slow and casual. It takes nearly one third the screen time to see some paranormal activities, by which time you lose interest in the subject. There is no graph in the design element of the plot and the scares are lacklustre.

This “Poltergeist” is not terrifying enough so you can safely give it a miss.

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