This is news that will no doubt split the options of horror fans completely down the middle, but word is that the casting for the new Poltergeist film is well underway. The director is Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ambers) with Rob Tapert, Roy Lee and Sam Raimi on the production side of things (Raimi at the moment just seems like he will produce any horror film he can get his hands on!). The screenplay is in the hands of writer David Lindsay-Abaire (with previous work from Juliet Snowden and Stiles White among others). No news on who has been cast so far, but filming will start in Autumn 2013 and will take place in Toronto. Monster House is a fun little children’s movie, but not very scary while the original Poltergeist in places made kids jump out of their seats. Can Gil get the right balance of fun and fear that the great Spielberg and Hooper managed to do?
In this slightly different story Eric Bowen and his family move to a new town after Eric loses his job. Madison, his daughter is abducted and Eric comes to the realization that nothing is more important than his family. Eric’s wife Amy has the ability to communicate with the dead, and Carrigan Burke; host of the TV show ‘Haunted House Cleaners’ is brought in to help out. The movie will also feature Carrigan’s ex who just so happens to work as a parapsychologist at the local university and pops up to look into Madison’s disappearance.
Now let’s turn the movie on its head; it would seem the plan is not for a straight reboot, but in fact more of a sequel, much like the new Evil Dead was. It will take place years after the Feeling’s left town. One key scene in this new vision of the Poltergeist universe has the children finding that classic cinematic tool a sliding panel. Guess what they find? Loads of stuff from the Freeling’s which includes the Star Wars bed sheets, Christmas decorations and that classic black and white TV. Personally, I would have just burned all this stuff after their traumatic events, but that’s Hollywood thinking for you. So like the Evil Dead remake we are getting a new set of characters mixed with the old style of movie we expect from this series including the killer tree, the clown and the unseen ghost people Madison talks to in the original.
I appreciate the fact that these changes are meant to give a fresh look to the 1982 movie, but I am unclear on if this is for the better. The girl in the Poltergeist is the thing that most people remember from the original, so reaction may depend on how much we actually see or hear of her in the movie. If the film focuses on the parent’s tribulations and they have no chemistry together then we may have a film devoid of emotional content. Nice inclusion of a Most Haunted style TV host, but it seems like we have already seen this type of post modern twist before with the Fright Night remake (I know he was an illusionist in that, but it is the same type of cocky character I am expecting to see here to). Will we see a happy ending here? I doubt it Hollywood hates happy endings in horror at the moment. Will we see the house get sucked into limbo? Will it look as good with CGI effects or is the movie going to employ physical effects to create the ghosts? The look of the ghosts in the original movie were superb and even today are fun to watch. Can the new movie live up to these spectres?
The final question we need to ask ourselves here is do we even need another variation on Poltergeist? Recently film goers have had remakes, reboots and sequels thrown at them from every possible genre and it seems like no film is safe from getting taken off the shelf and given a cinematic new lick of paint. With the amount of ghost and demon possession movies already out there now and all of them seeming very similar, what is Poltergeist the remake going to offer that we have not already seen? Still this approach seems to have worked for the new Evil Dead movie, giving us a new set of characters and new Deadites to enjoy, so there is no reason why this sequel will not have the same success. If nothing else it will bring in new audience to this classic movie and the established fans will no doubt be interested to see how this new movie plays out. It is early days yet and it will be interesting to see where this project goes. More news when it arrives.