Variety Review: ‘Poltergeist’ Remake “Entertaining Yet Fundamentally Unnecessary”

“The cast largely acquit themselves well, even when deprived of much opportunity to really develop their characters… Rockwell plays the slightly boozy, goofy father figure with great charm and likability, and Catlett makes for a believably wise, harried tyke of the Haley Joel Osment mold. DeWitt is unfortunately rather ill served by the film’s most significant divergence from the original, which robs the character of her great moment of maternal heroism. Harris, taking over for Zelda Rubinstein, has fun channeling another vintage Spielberg production, “Jaws,” as a rough, scarred, Quint-essential spook-hunter. Visually speaking, Javier Aguirresarobe’s photography is solid — and while generally unnecessary, the 3D work sometimes adds an extra layer of claustrophobia to the creeping interior shots — yet the film’s attempts to illustrate the spirit world bring to mind Nine Inch Nails videos more readily than any otherworldly chthonian purgatory. Composer Marc Streitenfeld turns in a largely effective score, though it can’t help but pale in comparison to Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated original. ..Even when one is inclined to admire the cleverness with which the remake revisits and reincorporates “Poltergeist’s” themes, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment where it improves on them, and the aura of inessentiality hangs thick over the proceedings. Some franchises die, but they don’t know they’re gone. And then some franchises just get lost on their way to the reboot.”

-From the Variety review by Andrew Barker

This isn’t a huge shock, but we are kind of disappointed… we really needed a good scream or two in the movie theater (It Follows literally only played here in town one weekend, at a venue that is now a huge pain in the ass to get anywhere near thanks to traffic revisions), but this doesn’t look like it will fit the bill. Despite the fact this review compares the movie to a guided tour through a county-fair-style haunted house and states it has some quality jump scares, nothing in this review–and the others we’ve read–makes us feel like seeing it in the theater rather than waiting for VOD/Blu-ray. OK, if someone sent a car and driver to pick us up, and the movie was free, we’d go. However, reviews for Poltergeist 2015 tend to start waxing sentimental about the original, and saying though the movie tries to recapture the magic and mood Tobe Hooper was able to craft perfectly in 1982, the bottom line is that this reboot was unnecessary horror remake for a beloved, fan-favorite movie that did just fine (well, much better than fine) the first time around.

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This is what happens when you move the headstones but you don’t move the bodies!

 

Oh, and from what I’ve heard, there isn’t even really a tip of the hat to the scene in the original where a member of the first group of paranormalists studying the ghostly activity hallucinated clawing his own face off (which they could never, ever get away with putting in a PG-rated movie these days; in fact, it was borderline R-rated). I am not saying they had to duplicate it, but give us something other than the clown doll, the tree, and “They’re here/This house is clean,” for Chrissake! Check out this piece we wrote when the first trailers of the movie went online for more, including the actual gory scene (we recalled adults in the audience yelling “HOAH!” in horrified surprise even louder than the kids our age).

If you’ve seen the original and the remake, and you feel like this review was too hard on the movie, please tell us about it. We would love to be proved wrong about the face-ripping scene, too!

Read on by clicking “View original” in the lower left…

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Film Review: ‘The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)’

It would be stretching things to the breaking point to suggest “Final Sequence” actually has something to say about the U.S. prison industry. The concept alone suggests as much, yet only near the end does the script transcend a simpleminded need to offend long enough to make even a crudely satirical statement about profit-driven institutional policies or inmate abuse. The ad line brags “100% Politically Incorrect,” but the writer-helmer’s achievement on that level is perhaps most comparable to junior high bathroom-wall graffiti: Six just wants to shock, though his imagination is so primitive that the effort is strained and a bit pathetic. Initially abrasive, the whole enterprise grows simply tedious well before the now-epically-scaled titular phenom is unveiled in the prison yard.

-From the Variety Review by Dennis Harvey

OK, so Variety.com does not have good things to say about the third Human Centipede movie. This is not exactly a huge surprise. Are you going to watch it out of morbid curiosity?

TV Review: ‘Penny Dreadful,’ Season 2

“Sumptuously shot in Ireland, the series thus represents a fine and frankly shrewdly calculated addition to Showtime’s roster, in the same way any savvy manager wants to assemble a diversified portfolio. If that sounds somewhat dismissive, remember that producing a credible gothic drama isn’t as easy as it sounds (just ask Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove”). Besides, given the appetite for the genre, a program that’s simply unapologetic fun, as this is, can be plenty good, “Penny”-wise.”
We agree… and we practically levitate whenever the Grand Guignol theater shows up (and it looks like it will be seeing plenty of action this season)!  If you haven’t seen it yet, may we suggest bingeing on Season One, then catching up? This show just keeps getting better and better… and more fun. Also, Eva Green continues to kill it with her fearless performance.

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YES! Angela Bassett Joins ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’

Great news! Oh, and if you missed it, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, and Chloë Sevigny will also return. For those who were not thrilled by the announcement about Lady Gaga appearing in American Horror Story Season 5, AKA American Horror Story Hotel, don’t panic. This is an ensemble cast, and she will not be replacing Jessica Lange as the lead. I doubt they’d give her a meatier role than, say, Kathy Bates. We’re not huge fans, but we’re also willing to give Gaga a fair chance. Meanwhile, keep on hoping that Lily Rabe, who we really missed last season (though getting to see her play Sister Mary Eunice again in the episode “Orphans” was almost worth her only being in one episode) will sign on to return! Also, we kind of miss Zach Quinto…