Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: Even the cast is too familiar with the plot to be scared by ‘Poltergeist'

Well, the little girl gets it.

Kennedi Clements plays Maddy Bowen, the child trapped between the real world and the afterlife in the new version of “Poltergeist,” and gives us wild-eyed terror we can hang onto and a blood-curdling scream that will haunt your nightmares.

The rest of the players? They sort of shrug it off. Sam Rockwell, as the father of the missing child, lands his laughs. But he, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jane Adams (as a paranormal academic) and others under-react to the stunning evidence of a supernatural menace.

Perhaps they’re as over-familiar with this story as the rest of us; a subdivision, built over a graveyard, a house in which proactive ghosts – poltergeists – talk to a child through a static-ridden TV and snatch her through her closet.

The 1982 Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg film is an oft-telecast classic. But generations have been exposed to the plot and its loopiness, thanks to reruns of “The Simpsons.”

David Lindsay-Abaire’s script is full of “We can’t go to the cops” excuses designed to explain why the family whose little girl vanishes in the middle of a thunderstorm doesn’t do so.

A nearby college conveniently has a “Paranormal Studies” department, but obvious foreshadowing tells us the TV ghost hunter Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris, not bad) will be “the cavalry” the Bowen family eventually calls in.

The 3-D frights are what you’d expect from the director of the animated (and superior) “Monster House.”

Worst effect?

That cast, model-pretty and inexpressive, even when all hell is breaking loose.