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Times of India
A family moves into a new house in suburban America only to find that they have some very unwelcome, ghoulish visitors. The latter take over the family's home electronics (especially liking the flat screen TV) and capture their little daughter Madison (Clements). Along with some specialized help, they rescue Madison from her demonic captors.
Remaking the legendary horror film that was Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper's 1982 classic is a tall order for any director. Gil Kenan chooses not to experiment too much with the original narrative and plays it somewhat safe.
However, there's plenty to give horror buffs their money's worth in the jump scares department, especially in the first half. Instead of the Freeling family from the original, here, we have the Bowen clan who are beleaguered by things that go bump in the night.
Devoted patriarch Eric (Rockwell) has been unemployed for a while and wife Amy (DeWitt) has her hands full as a homemaker. But apart from Madison, it is actually her protective brother Griffin (Catlett) whose performance often steers the plot. Which is not to say that the others - Eric the strong father and Amy the anguished matriarch - are any less on point. Playing the eldest sibling, Saxon also has two key moments in the film. But oddly, it is their expert ghostbuster Carrigan (Harris) whose presence is largely vestigial.
The Bowen's house of horrors is a minefield of scares. Evil dolls, clowns, toys and even the gnarled old tree outside. And of course, closets that contain more than just clothes and shoes. Interesting modern touches, such as an innovative use for a drone and a rogue smartphone are added but the pace is just too breezy and more time could have been invested in balancing tension buildup with the jump scares, measure for measure. From another perspective, as a result of the film's pace, it also doesn't drag. And the special effects finale scene in the demonic dimension, are suitably creepy. Although this could have been gourmet, it is actually fast-food horror that's perfectly passable.
Tom Cruise and Richard Armitage were considered for the role of Eric Bowen.
In a Q&A, Saxon Sharbino admitted that she had never seen the original "Poltergeist" until filming was complete on this production.
Rosemarie Dewitt was keen on doing the film after she saw the lively audience reaction at the premiere of The Conjuring (2013), which featured her husband Ron Livingston.
There were reports of Tom Cruise and Richard Armitage being considered for the role of Eric Bowen.
Saxon Sharbino confessed that she had not seen the original Poltergeist until shooting was completed on this production.
The film is a reboot of the original but is set in the present day.
Natasha Calis was considered for the big sister role.
The film marks Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jane Adams’s second association after Joe Swanberg's indie film Digging For Fire (2015).
It is not explained as to how the family would buy a new house despite both parents being unemployed.
Eric and Amy settle into their new home and soon get cozy one night but their middle child Griffin interrupts them when they are beginning to get intimate and tells them that he is spooked by something.
Eric goes to Griffin's room to investigate and finds a bunch of dolls in a ventilation shaft where a ferret has been trapped. He then tells his alarmed family not to worry. That night however, we see all sorts of electrical disturbances in the house ranging from the display in the exercycle, all sorts of LCD displays and even Saxon's phone. Griffin goes up to his room to place some comics away but is terrified when he sees a ball roll out of a room where the door is half closed. He goes in and is scared by what he sees and when he exits, sees all the comics he was supposed to place inside, arranged in a hexagon in the air.
Although unemployed, he still goes out the next day and buys pizza for Madison, a drone for Griffin and a new cellphone for Kendra.
That night, Madison is drawn to the TV at night and Griffin wakes up and is alarmed to see her talking to the TV which is full of white noise and static. He yells at her to get away but is unable to draw her away. The household wakes up and the parents are especially concerned. No one for the time being believes Griffin.
One night, Amy and Eric head out to dinner at a host's home. The host, who Eric feels will give him a job. The dinner conversation reveals that the new home and locality Eric and family live at, was built on a cemetery. However, when that was found out, the cemetery was mass exhumed and shifted to another place.
While they are out, Kendra follows some disturbances on her phone while she is texting her boyfriend, to the basement and is grabbed by an entity from under the floor. Upstairs, the branches of a tree grab Griffin and a portal into the other dimension swallows Madison. When Eric and Amy return, they are shocked.
The next day, they call paranormal investigators Brooke Powell (Jane Adams) and her assistants Sophie (Susan Heyward) and Boyd (Nicholas Braun). Powell explains to the family that this is not a bunch of ghosts who cannot move physical objects around but are poltergeists that can do so and cause harm. When Boyd is setting up a mic in the closet, he is drawn into the other side partially and almost killed with his own drill.
After being unable to rescue Madison they bring in the help of Carrigan Burke who is a celebrity ghostbuster. He tells the family that the cemetery being relocated was a lie and only the tombstones were moved. He says they wanted Madison as her soul is pure and untarnished with cynicism and that she had a gift to talk to the other side from a young age. He establishes rope link into the portal entrance in the closet with its exit being on the ceiling of the living room. They try and are able to locate her using the drone that Griffin pilots. They are unable to pull her out. But Griffin goes in, locates her and pulls her out heroically. Carrigan pronounces that the house is clean but Madison tells them that the spirit portal is open and the poltergeists can manifest freely in the material world now. Carrigan then goes into the portal himself to lead the entities trapped in a neither-here-nor-there environment into where they are supposed to be, thereby saving the family from future torment. At the end of the movie, we see the Bowen family drive out to inspect a new home but then leave when the realtor shows them an old oak tree outside. There's also a small reel at the end showing Carrigan and Powell hamming it up.