REVIEW: POLTERGEIST (2015)

CAST

Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Saxon Sharbino (I Spit On Your Grave)
Kyle Catlett (The Angry Birds Movie)
Kennedi Clements (Jingle All The Way 2)
Jared Harris (Allied)
Jane Adams (Last Holiday)
Nicholas Braun (Red State)
Susan Heyward (Powers)
Patrick Garrow (Robocop)

1Eric and Amy Bowen are a married couple looking to buy a house for themselves and their three children: 16-year-old daughter, Kendra, their 9-year-old son, Griffin, and 6-year-old daughter, Madison. Eric was recently laid off, but they are shown a house that has recently come on the market that fits their price range, so they purchase it and move in.2The first night, they hear strange noises in the walls, and Griffin finds a box of clown dolls that were left at the house. In the middle of the night, lights and electronic devices start turning on and off, as some unseen force appears to move through the home. The commotion wakes Griffin, and he goes downstairs and finds Maddie talking to an unknown presence inside the television. She tells Griffin someone is coming, and he attempts to unplug the TV, causing the lights to go out of control. Maddie then tells the family: “They’re here” while touching their TV screen that has the ghost’s hands pressing against the other side of the screen. The following evening, Eric and Amy go to dinner with their friends, leaving the three children at home. They learn that their house was built on an old cemetery, but the bodies were moved to a better neighbourhood.3At the house, Kendra’s phone begins emitting strange sounds and a glitching screen, and as she traces the noise and enters the garage, the floor cracks and a corpse’s hand emerges and begins pulling at her foot. Griffin notices the clown dolls seem to be moving by themselves. One clown doll attacks him, but he destroys it and escapes from his bedroom. He finds Maddie in her room, scared, crouching in a corner, and tells her to stay while he goes to find Kendra. Maddie is then lured into her closet and becomes lost in an unending void. As she sees her bedroom drifting away further, she is dragged into the darkness by ghosts. Griffin, while running around the house, is grabbed by the branches of the old tree outside their house, which pulls him out to be hanging on the tree. Amy and Eric arrive home to see Griffin being tossed around in the tree branches, which releases its grip when they come close, while Kendra tells them she can’t find Maddie.5The family hears Maddie’s voice emanating from the television. Amy reaches at the television’s screen while Maddie’s static hand is seen to be touching Amy’s hand on the other side of the screen. Amy and Griffin visit the Paranormal Research department for help. The staff sets up equipment in the house, and install GPS devices on everyone in the house. While trying to contact Maddie, Eric is ambushed in the closet by a ghost resembling her. Angered, he breaks down the closet wall, throwing a chair into the darkness inside the closet, and as the chair falls back into the living room of the house, it reveals a possible portal Maddie can escape through. The investigators realize that this haunting is a poltergeist. The lead investigator, Dr. Brooke Powell, decides to call occult specialist and television personality Carrigan Burke (revealed, much later, to be Powell’s ex).4Carrigan explains that Maddie is a possible psychic, able to communicate with spirits. He reveals that the ghosts are trapped and are angry because only the headstones were moved to the new cemetery, but the bodies remained, and plan on using Maddie “to free them from their purgatory”. Carrigan comes up with a plan to get Maddie back. He anchors a rope in Maddie’s room and tosses it into the vortex. They attempt to use Griffin’s toy drone to guide Maddie out, but it is immediately destroyed by the ghosts when inside the portal. Griffin, guilt-ridden over leaving Maddie alone in the first place, goes through the portal himself. When he finds Maddie, the ghosts attempt to destroy the rope to trap them, but Griffin and Maddie grab onto the rope and are brought back through the portal.The family get in their car and begin to take their leave from the house, but the ghosts drag them back into the house and attempt to abduct Maddie again. The family saves her from being sucked into the portal, and Carrigan decides that as the only other psychic, he must go into the vortex and lead the spirits into the light. The Bowens flee as the house is destroyed by the spirits soaring into the sky as a beacon of light. The investigative team run to their equipment, looking for a sign that Carrigan managed to get back. As the Bowens look for a new house, the realtor shows them a house with lots of closet space and an old tree in the backyard; the Bowens drive away laughing. During the end credits, it’s revealed that Carrigan survived the incident and is back filming his ghost program, now hosting the show with Dr. Powell.6Being a huge fan of the original, I was pleasantly surprised that this remake respects and echoes the original in the main, but adds twists and effects and tech that we use everyday to make it comfortably contemporary. .

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REVIEW: POLTERGEIST (1982)

CAST

Craig T. Nelson (Silkwood)
JoBeth Williams (Wyatt Earp)
Heather O’Rourke (Happy Days)
Dominique Dunne (The Shadow Riders)
Oliver Robins (Man Overboard)
Zelda Rubinstein (Southland Tales)
Beatrice Straight (Network)
Richard Lawson (wag The Dog)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)

Steven and Diane Freeling live a quiet life in an Orange County, California planned community called Cuesta Verde, where Steven is a successful real estate developer and Diane looks after their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne. Carol Anne awakens one night and begins conversing with the family’s television set, which is displaying static following a sign-off. The following night, while the Freelings sleep, Carol Anne fixates on the television set as it transmits static again. Suddenly, a ghostly white hand emerges from the television, followed by a violent earthquake. As the shaking subsides, Carol Anne announces “They’re here”.Bizarre events occur the following day: a drinking glass of milk spontaneously breaks, silverware bends and furniture moves of its own accord. The phenomena seem benign at first, but quickly begin to intensify. That night, a gnarled backyard tree comes alive and grabs Robbie through the bedroom window. While Steven rescues Robbie, Carol Anne is sucked through a portal in her closet. The Freelings realize she has been taken when they hear her voice emanating from the television set that is tuned to an empty channel.A group of parapsychologists from UC Irvine — Dr. Lesh, Ryan, and Marty — come to the Freeling house to investigate and determine that the Freelings are experiencing a poltergeist intrusion. They discover that the disturbances involve more than just one ghost. Steven also finds out in an exchange with his boss, Lewis Teague, that Cuesta Verde is built where a cemetery was once located. After Dana and Robbie are sent away for their safety, Lesh and Ryan call in Tangina Barrons, a spiritual medium. Tangina states that the ghosts inhabiting the house are lingering in a different “sphere of consciousness” and are not at rest. Attracted to Carol Anne’s life force, these spirits are distracted from the real “light” that has come for them. Tangina then adds that there is also a demon known as the “Beast”, who has Carol Anne under restraint in an effort to restrain the other spirits.The assembled group discovers that the entrance to the other dimension is through the children’s bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. As the group attempts to rescue Carol Anne, Diane passes through the entrance tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. Diane manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling, unconscious and covered in ectoplasmic residue. As they recover, Tangina proclaims afterward that the house is now “clean”.Shortly thereafter, the Freelings begin the process of moving elsewhere by packing up their belongings. During their last night in the house, Steven leaves for the office in order to quit his job and Dana goes on a date, leaving Diane, Robbie, and Carol Anne alone in the house. The “Beast” then ambushes Diane and the children, aiming for a second kidnapping by attempting to restrain Robbie and Diane. Robbie is attacked by a clown doll in his bedroom, and Diane is attacked by an unseen force that moves her up the wall and over the ceiling in her room. The unseen force drives Diane to the backyard dragging her into the swimming pool. Skeletons surround her as she tries to swim to escape, but she manages to climb out of the pool and make her way back into the house. She rescues the children, and they eventually escape to the outside only to discover coffins and rotting corpses erupting out from the ground in their yard and throughout the neighbourhood.As Steven and Dana return home to the mayhem, Steven confronts Teague after realizing that rather than relocating the cemetery for the development of Cuesta Verde, Teague merely had the headstones moved and the bodies left behind. The Freelings flee Cuesta Verde while the house implodes into the portal, to the astonishment of onlookers. The family checks into a hotel for the night, and Steven rolls the television outside into the walkway.Like most movies successful in the late 70’s early 80’s, there were sequels that were made with considerably higher budgets but less than stellar results. Neither of the Poltergeist sequels or subsequent television programming could come close to capturing the essence of the original. Besides, how can you top what is now one of the most famous movie tag-lines of all time `They’rrreeee Here’?.