The remake of Poltergeist has always been like the remake of The Crow…everyone has heard about it for ages, but no one has seen a tangible trace of it. Someone holds a license, claims they intend to do something with it, but nothing happens. Poltergeist has now moved out of that limb. Filming is done. Yes, you read that correctly. Sam Raimi is the producer and the lesser-known Gil Kenan is directing. Kenan’s greatest achievement was getting an Academy Award in 2006 for his stop-motion/live-action short The Lark, which was part of his graduate thesis. That attracted Zemeckis and Spielberg, who gave him the director’s seat in Monster House, a flick with a $75 million budget. Talk about putting pressure on an amateur! Well, he managed to gross $140.2 million on it. That opened the door to directing City of Ember in 2008. Despite getting a 6.5 on IMDb and featuring class acts like Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, the picture tanked, making $18 million on a $55 million budget. Critics were lukewarm to it. He then vanished from film (aside from working on some screenplays, like A Giant) untilPoltergeist got kicked up again.
Looking at the chain of events, it seems obvious knowing Spielberg gave him an in to being able to take the project, though Sam Raimi has taken the producer’s seat. While we know Kenan can produce quality material, the issue of a remake happening puts a sour taste in the mouths of many. Remakes and reboots do make sense when ample time has passed and the original wasn’t a mainstream hit that became a classic. That or if technology/industry has changed so much it can pull off what the original couldn’t. It was 30 years between the original Cape Fear and Scorsese’s remake, yet Scorsese was met with acclaim, big profits and awards. It’s nearing 32 years since Poltergeist was released, so why are we hesitant to receive it? Simple: Hooper and Spielberg were able to pull off everything they wanted in the original. Nothing had to be censored or toned down and every effect worked. No improvement was needed. So, the issue is this: can Kenan improve onPoltergeist somehow? He seems akin to CG effects, and those tend to get mixed reviews even when they aren’t intertwined with a remake of a classic. That and there’s always a degree of ego that comes with doing a remake. It’s completely understandable some directors do remakes because they’re fans and want to enter the world of a film they love, but it’s hallowed ground. Someone doing a remake sounds like they believe the original was lacking and they can personally do a better job. Even if the original director does or approves the remake, it gives the sour taste of dissatisfaction with what viewers fell in love with. We can’t help but be insulted or at least skeptical.