I'm going to do the noble thing and not compare this to the original, because even though it's a pretty direct remake, it's totally its own movie, you guys. I'll try to look past the fact that it's everything about the original, but way, way worse, and... ...oh, crap!
Ok, let's just try to do a plot summary that will make you see that this should stand alone as its own great project. A family of five, where the father just lost his job and the mother is a homemmaker (so, no income), move into an enormous house, which has been conveniently "wired to the brim" because the last owner was a "techie", which is convenient for a ghost that travels through electricity for some unknown and unexplained reason (even though it controls wooden chairs and stuffed animals, too). But it won't posses that power drill until you plug it in! You know because they showed a ghost spark when he put it in the outlet.
Anyway, I guess they get a discount on the house because it was built on a graveyard. Instead of the ghost showing up just on the TV, it comes through on iPhones and iPads, too. That's right, you see distorted TV static on an iPhone. Don't question it! It's ghosts, and the girl holding the haunted iPhone is in the target demographic. SHUT UP.
You want to know how different this is from the original, proving that it's not just a tacky, uninspiring, lazy cash grab? You actually see the words #THISHOUSEISCLEAN in a shot of this movie. That's great social media synergy, son! You know all the young whippersnappers leaving the theater are mad tweeting out #thishouseisclean to their BFFs after the movie. Getting good buzz on our feeds or something, brah! That is, if there were any kids exiting the theater. My screening was just me and one other 20 something guy. And it was opening weekend...
Listen, it's impossible to NOT talk about the original, because this is such a ripoff of all of the loudest parts of the original, that it wouldn't even make sense to act like what we're seeing isn't just a bunch of worse takes on *really* classic horror movie scenes.
Do you want me to talk about something that isn't just why this movie is a terrible idea from the very start and ended up even worse? Ok, all of the child actors are terrible. They had delivery that made me chuckle, but not in a "so bad it's good" way, more of an "embarrassed for them" kind of way. Sam Rockwell looks like he realized on the second day what a crappy movie he was in, so he just gave up for the rest of the production. The guy who played the male scientist assistant, however, was one of the worst actors I've ever seen.
The original was mostly focused on the parents, and the unbearable grief they were feeling over their daughter going missing. Helped in part to some great acting by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, the emotion felt believable and real. With the remake, in some terrible decision-making by the lazy screenwriters, the main character is now the son, who is somehow 20x more of a crybaby wiener kid than the original son. Also, again, he's a terrible actor. I laughed a few times at his bad child acting. But anyway, they make the son the main character and the hero who goes in the portal at the end instead of the mom, probably because they chose not to develop the parents pretty much at all. When Sam Rockwell's eyes water up because he wants his daughter back, it looks forced and phony and stupid.
This is like the dumbest kid in class turned in a book report based on a Cliff's Notes version of Poltergeist that he read six years ago. What were the cool parts of Poltergeist? Hmmmm... I remember there was a portal in the closet, so let's like go into it this time? There was a clown toy, right? So let's have several clowns, for some reason? Actually let's insert an actual line of dialogue into the movie where a character says "Why would anyone collect a box of clowns?" Good question. Hey, let's put a clown on all of the promotional material as well, because we all remember the three-minute clown scene from '82, and if you haven't, then well scary clowns are in, so why not?
If there's a legitimate fan of this remake somewhere (hahaha, you have pretty bad taste if that's you), and they really stick behind a claim that the original is old and not scary, and this was full of loud jump scares and way better... Whatever, fair enough, awful person. But I don't think you want me to not compare this movie to the original, because if I hypothetically pretend that I had never heard of the original Poltergeist and I went into this with a clean slate, it goes from being one of the worst movies of the year to possibly being one of the worst movies I've ever seen!
By skipping all of the developmental scenes that make this frantic barrage of moments (from the original), this movie doesn't even make sense. The characters don't act like real people. There's no tension. It's just cramming as many things as you vaguely remember from the original into 90 new minutes.
I think I could make sense of what was going on because, in the deep recesses of my mind, I could still put together what was supposed to be happening because I've seen the original. In the original, it's implied through scenes, (and ya know, good acting) that an extended period of time has passed in between when Carole Anne disappears and when they call in the scientists for help. In the remake, it seems like the daughter gets sucked into the TV, and then they call the scientists the next day, and they are reacting to crazy ghost stuff like they've been living with it for a year. To a person who has never seen the original, it must seem like these people have incredibly inconsistent personalities. The original felt like it took place over a couple of weeks or months; the remake felt like it took place over four days.
There was also none of the whimsy of the original either, because they chose not to include any of the fun stuff before it turns into a nightmare. In the remake, basically the second night they are there, the box of clowns, CGI tree hand, and mud people attack all at once. Also, the "twist" ending didn't even have the false sense of calm, because it happens about 40 seconds after the tension of the previous climactic scene. Maybe try and do something different? You're already doing a crappy job copying the '82 Poltergeist, so you can go off the rails and do your own thing if you want, I doubt anyone would have cared.
Oh well, this was a big dud, and it's impossible not to compare it to the original. It's kind of funny that a movie this unmemorable came out on Memorial Day weekend. Now let us never speak of it again.
2.5 out of 10