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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material, and some language.

Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Supernatural Horror Thriller 3D Remake
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 22, 2015 (wide—3,200+ theaters)
DVD: September 29, 2015
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

MALEVOLENT SPIRITS—Where do these dangerous, hostile, and evil entities come from? Answer

ghosts and spirits in the Bible

familiar spirit

demons in the Bible

Satan / Devil

Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Sam RockwellEric Bowen
Rosemarie DeWitt … Amy Bowen
Jared HarrisCarrigan Burke
Saxon Sharbino … Kendra Bowen
Nicholas Braun … Boyd
Jane Adams … Dr. Claire Powell
Kennedi Clements … Madison Bowen
Susan Heyward … Sophie
Kyle Catlett … Griffin Bowen
Soma Bhatia … Lauren
Karen Ivany … Barbara Stoller
L.A. Lopes … Cashier
Director: Gil Kenan—“City of Ember” (2008), “Monster House” (2006)
Producer: Sam Raimi, etc.
Fox 2000 Pictures
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

My thoughts about this movie are summed up in one word: WHY? The original “Poltergeist” movie was just fine. What was the point in remaking it? The day before I saw this remake, I watched the original 1982 film, which was directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg. I was very impressed with it! It really should have just been left as a classic. The plot is the same as the original: a family gets attacked by ghosts, who kidnap the daughter. The family then has to travel to the other plane to get their daughter back. Only a few minor changes were made to the plot.

The moral quality of this film is about the same as the original. There’s more language and some minor problems that weren’t in the original, but the objectionable content that was in the original is not as present in the remake.

In this film, the kids don’t misbehave as much as they did in the original (but they still do, some). But neither film had very much rebellion in it. In the remake, there’s a stupidly unnecessary scene where two of the investigators are talking about their divorce and arguing over whether she misses him or not. There is no sexual content in the original film; in this remake, the husband and wife make some suggestive, but non-explicit, comments to each other, and the husband is taking off his pants just as they’re interrupted. Even though the characters are married, I frown on this scene because there is no reason for it, other than to have a dash of sexual content in the movie.

The 1982 film is one of the movies that helped pave the way for the creation of the PG-13 rating. The remake is rated PG-13, but the violence in the remake is actually much less disturbing than the violence in the original. The famous face-tearing hallucination that was in the original is toned way down in the remake; the man just sees crud coming out of his mouth and eyes, and when it falls to the sink, there are maggots in it. Still gross, of course, but not brutal like the original hallucination scene. The corpses, likewise, are not as gross. When the ghosts appear as corpses, they look more like aliens, because they don’t appear to be rotting. There’s only one corpse that pops out of a coffin. The scene where Maddie comes out of the “light” isn’t as gross either.

Overall, however, neither movie is too gross. In both, the gross-outs are all brief and minor compared to the entirety of the movie. Most of the horror comes from the peril, suspense, and jump scares. The remake actually shows inside the ghost plane, unlike the original. It’s just like an old-school ghostly spook scene. So the original is scarier than the remake, but the scariness of the original is usually no less appropriate than the scariness of the remake.

Language includes about ten misuses of God’s name, five s-words, a loud “dumb@$$” from a young girl, and one of “d**n,” “hell,” and “p***ed off.” The teenage girl apologizes to her dad by saying, “I’m sorry; I’ve been such a b***h to you.” The apologize is definitely sincere, and at least she was insulting herself, but it’s still sad that she didn’t choose a better word.

This is one of those films that Christians will debate over, just like the “Insidious” franchise. There’s not as much that will be questioned in “Poltergeist,” though. The only problem that some Christians will take with this movie (besides the content already mentioned) is the fact that it centers around ghosts. This is not the typical ghost movie about spirits that remained on Earth. In this movie’s fantasy world, spirits died and couldn’t find the light that they supposedly travel through after they die—which presumably leads to their eternal destiny. This is not Biblical, but there’s nothing in the film that directly attacks Christianity. Fantasy, by definition, is contradiction of reality. And you just have to understand, when watching films like this, that fantasy is being used not to contradict Scripture, but to tell a story from the perspective of “if this could happen…” The original and remake are exactly the same on this note.

There are definitely positive messages in the story. The family’s troubles, just like the trials of real life, bring the family together in a special way. They love their daughter enough to take huge, scary risks to save her. So this isn’t just one of those cheap horror flicks that consists of a bunch of pointless freak-outs. Again, this goes for both the original and the remake.

Morally, if you’re comfortable with fantasy, both movies are actually pretty decent. Even the remake’s quality isn’t too poor itself—but for a remake, it’s terrible (and the moviemaking quality loses a star because of that). The original movie was spectacular, warm, and rich. The remake is basically the opposite of those things. If you’ve seen the original, don’t see the remake; you’ll be disappointed. If you’ve seen the remake, watch the original, and you’ll see what I mean.

The remake did have some interesting new minor elements that the original didn’t have, but it condensed the original way too much, rushing through it; it kind of seemed lazy. The original revealed an important explanation to the mystery at the end, making a sort of surprise ending; in the remake, it’s revealed halfway through the film, taking from the effect of the ending. The children’s acting in the remake is good, but the adults” acting is sometimes good and sometimes poor. There’s barely any emotion in the remake.

Alright, I’ll quit now. Bottom-line: Even though the remake is no more offensive than the original, the original is better in almost every other way, so, of course, I recommend it instead of the remake.

Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments from non-viewers
Negative— I am writing this review as a Christian woman in her 40’s, who at age 11, along with my dear brother who was 7 at the time, was allowed to watch the original “Poltergeist” from 1982 over and over again as children. I was very upset to see that this movie had been remade and released for today’s generation of young people to watch! The original movie was put out by Steven Spielberg, and what many do not know, is that this was his very first, and LAST venture into [supernatural] horror filmmaking. Through the course of filming this movie, he experienced nightmares, supernatural disturbances, and demonic attacks on his own personal life. more »
—Laurel, age 44 (USA)
Neutral—This is a reaction to another commenter. We can both relate to the dangers associated with the element and essence of this movie. My sympathy for you, dear. You and I both hate when people are attacked and oppressed by demons. These demons are fallen angels, which I realized means that they have been around for a lot longer than we have, and maybe that could be one reason why they know just how to hurt us so badly. God bless, in Christ our Savior. …
—James, age 24 (USA)
Negative—In a time where humanity is fascinated by the supernatural and so open to the occult, this movie does a great job at fueling that interest. Although portrayed as fantasy, to lower our defenses, we must remember that the devil is an angel of light, and the demonic influence we face is a reality. We wrestle not with flesh and blood.

When I was a teen, my parents bought a house whose previous owners were deep in the occult, unknown to us until very strange things started happening and each member of our family saw things that we kept from each other for fear of seeming psychologically disturbed. It was not until one of us started sharing what we saw, that everyone confessed to seeing the same “spirits” with same descriptions. It was at that time we starting asking questions from the neighbors and found bones of animals that were sacrificed and much more.

Glory to God we invited… well begged Christians to come and pray in the house. The Lord Jesus even brought us an insurance salesman who gave us the gospel and a Bible. Through God’s Word we learned there is only one God and everything including demons are subject to God’s authority. Needless to say, all fear left us, and the house became normal.

However, I warn any true believer and follower of Jesus Christ who thinks the supernatural is an innocent form of entertaining. We are commanded to stay away from these things, call evil, evil, and even expose those things that come against the knowledge and truth of God. These haunting spirits are demons.

As believers, we can support good movies instead of raising the profits in movies like this one. Our “vote” in the movie theaters makes a difference as to which types of film consumers eat up or which ones aren’t in demand.

Do you think a portrayal of demonic attack in a “fantasy” setting, devoid of the truth and mention of God, is something profitable for believers, families raising impressionable children, or even all who are desensitized to the occult by our entertainment? You can call it fantasy, but for some, like parapsychologists and others participating or attracted to the occult, it is fuel for their fire. Perhaps for believers it is a way to desensitize and lower our defenses to the real spiritual war in which we are to put on the full armor of God.
—Leo, age 48 (USA)

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