Poltergeist: Extended Cut review (Blu-ray)

Here's a fact about film remakes: they are not aimed at people like you and me - lovers of cinema. They are not made for people who saw, and loved, the original. Remakes are aimed at a whole new audience, one that is probably not even aware of the original film. A case in point is this remake of the 1982 classic Poltergeist. Fans of the original will probably give it a wide birth, but audiences that do take the plunge and watch it are likely to find much to enjoy – as remakes go, this new Poltergeist is definitely one of the better ones.

The ever-reliable Rockwell and DeWitt are Eric and Amy Bowen who, with their three kids, have to move to a cheaper home when Eric is laid off from work. But the new house happens to be slightly haunted and when youngest daughter Maddie (Clements) disappears into the depths of the closet, they call on parapsychologist Brooke Powell (Adams) and TV "ghosthunter" Carrigan Burke (Harris) to get her back.

It's a new family and a new suburb but the plot pretty much echoes the original. And there are a few nods to the original as well, with the creepy clown, the haunted TV and the classic "they're here" line (although reworked slightly into "they're coming"). But there are plenty of modern touches too, with today's technology – tablets and smartphones, and even a drone – playing a big part. There's a touch more humour too, especially from Rockwell.

But when all is said and done, as well made as it is (and it's very well made) Poltergeist is an unnecessary remake. It doesn't do enough differently to stand apart from Tobe Hooper's film, and the climax lacks the thrills and spectacle of his version. The audience it's aimed at is sure to enjoy it, but serious horror buffs and fans of the original will probably decide to give it a miss.

EXTRAS ★★ The Extended Version adds about seven minutes of footage to the film, mostly dealing with day-to-day family life before the disappearance of Maddie. Disappointingly, the bonus material is thin on the ground – just an Alternate Ending (1:46) that, to me, is actually better than the ending on the film itself; an image gallery; and a couple of theatrical trailers.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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