Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi and director Gil Kenan reimagine and contemporize the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and take the youngest daughter, the family must come together to rescue her.
The Bowen family has fallen on hard times. Eric (Sam Rockwell) has lost his job at John Deere, forcing them to move to a new home, one which his teenage daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) openly mocks. Mother Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) has raised a beautiful family, but may have to go back to a day job to make ends meet. Son Griffin (Kyle Catlett) is going through that fearful time of childhood when we hear noises in our closets and wonder what’s under the bed. Finally, Madison (Kennedi Clements) is a unique little girl, the kind who talks to her imaginary friends a bit too often.
Before the Bowens have even unpacked, weird things are afoot in their new abode. Griffin hears sounds in his attic bedroom, and finds a box full of creepy clown toys. He also really doesn’t like the look of the old tree nearly scratching his skylight. One night, while Eric and Amy are out to dinner, all Hell quite literally breaks loose. In a pretty effective centerpiece, all three children are attacked separately. Hands popping out of the floor, trees crashing through windows, and those damn clowns—it’s a solid sequence that ends with Madison being taken to the other side. As she fights for survival between worlds, the Bowens have to call in paranormal experts (including Jared Harris and Jane Adams) to save their little girl.
Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” had two thematic foundations that have been essentially transferred intact to Gil Kenan’s version. It was no mere coincidence that little Carol Ann was sucked into her TV as fears that the idiot box would forever destroy the next generation were pretty common in the early ‘80s. In the update, technology is everywhere, and even integrated into the narrative in scenes like the one where Kendra hears something strange through the static on her smartphone and the later use of drone technology. The fear of technology isn’t quite developed adequately here (nothing is), but I liked how David Lindsay-Abaire captured the modern world in which we are surrounded by electrical toys—the ominous shots of the power lines behind their house are not accidental.