‘Poltergeist’ remake trailer raises the question: Was it worth the trouble?

02.05.15 2 years ago

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The first trailer for the “Poltergeist” remake is here, and…wait, why did they do this again?

With a script by “Rabbit Hole” scribe David Lindsay-Abaire and a solid cast consisting of Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie Dewitt and Jared Harris, I was actually holding out hope that Fox's update of the 1982 Tobe Hooper-directed horror film might actually give us something interesting and different. Now, I'm not so sure.

To be fair, it's hard to tell how the finished product will be based on only two-and-a-half minutes of footage – and it's certainly possible that the Fox marketing team, with the beloved-ness of the original film top of mind, crammed the trailer with as many “deja vu” moments as possible. But…man, there are a lot of those. A few examples:

The “hands on the TV” moment.

Okay, I'm giving this one a pass. As iconic shots from the original go, this is arguably the one that most burned itself into our collective memory. Can't fault them for going back to the well here.

Poltergeist remake

The “sucked into the closet” moment.

I guess this one gets a pass too? That said, assuming there are other ways for poltergeists to capture children than by pulling them into bedroom closets.

Poltergeist remake

The bland suburban tract home.

This is just the same house, right?

Poltergeist remake

“This development was built on a cemetery.”

Fingers crossed for a furious Craig T. Nelson cameo.

Poltergeist remake

The “rope through the closet” situation.

Can they bring Zelda back while they're in there?

Poltergeist remake

The possessed clown.

You just knew they were going to go there. Problem is, recycling fright devices will inevitably make the audience compare them to the original. How can they possibly make this scarier than it was the first time around?

Poltergeist remake

The kid-eating tree.

Again: we're just gonna compare this to the original tree (what a performance that was!). Something unexpected would have been much more effective.

Poltergeist remake

One more thing that irks me: you simply can't replace Zelda Rubinstein with a generic priest character (albeit one played by the excellent Jared Harris) and expect us to be impressed. Rubinstein was such a singular presence that I would never expect them to try and duplicate her with another actor, but it would have been great to find a more interesting angle on the “outsider savior” role. The man-of-the-cloth approach is certainly a different one from the '82 film, but it's an all-too-utilized horror trope at this point.

Final verdict? Disappointed. Here's hoping “Poltergeist” will defy my lowered expectations when it hits theaters on July 24.

What do you think?

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