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Poltergeist: Blockbuster or Bust?

Poltergeist returns to the big screen this week – but will horror fans line up for a new round of chills? We make the case for the supernatural remake.

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  • Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

“Do not go into the light. Stop where you are. Turn away from it. Don’t even look at it.”

You may recognize that bit of advice from Tobe Hooper’s creepy classic, Poltergeist. But it’s also what some film critics will surely say about the Poltergeist remake set to hit theaters May 22.

Should horror fans avoid this reboot like rotten corpses bubbling up from a muddy pool? Let’s investigate.

While writer David Lindsay-Abaire is reported to have penned his new screenplay from scratch, the trailers and posters for this year’s Poltergeist don’t offer much spin on the original. It looks like the same freaky scene: possessed TV sets, a little girl dragged away by spirits, one family’s suburban daydream turned supernatural nightmare thanks to an evil force in the house. So if it’s a serious overhaul you’re looking for – such as Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead or Rob Zombie’s Halloween – you may not find it here.

That said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” worked wonders for horror remakes like Let Me In and The Thing. Considering the talent in front of and behind the lens on Lindsay-Abaire’s Poltergeist, we may have a killer rehash on our hands.

Something else fanning the iffy fire? In an interview with Collider, Poltergeist star Sam Rockwell referred to the film as a kids’ movie. Though not meant as an insult (we think), he has a point.

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  • Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn Mayer

Poltergeist’s director is Gil Kenan, best known for the animated feature Monster House. The screenplay’s author helped pen Robots and Rise of the Guardians. So its PG-13 rating should come as no surprise.

Of course, it’s not as if a family-friendly rating ruined creepfests like Insidious, The Others, The Sixth Sense, or The Ringnot to mention the original Poltergeist itself, which packs the chills into a PG package. If anything, the increased focus of psychological chills in lieu of outright gore made each film scarier. Plus, an evil clown doll crawling around your bedroom is always disturbing, whether you’re 5 or 50.

Despite the déjà vu screenplay and the disappointing rating, no one can deny the film’s talent. Evil Dead maestro Sam Raimi produced the film. Roy Lee is also attached to the project; his horror genre successes include The Ring, The Voices, and The Strangers. Add to that an excellent cast led by Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, and Mr. Rockwell, and chances are good this Poltergeist will make for fun and freaky popcorn fare.

Will critics like it? No, probably not. We’re pretty sure their minds were made up the second rumors of the remake surfaced in 2011.

More importantly, will horror fans like it? We hope so. The film shows enough promise to where we’re happily heading toward the light. And you should, too.

Poltergeist hits the big screen this Friday, May 22. Watch the trailer below.