Few remakes can boast about staying true to their original counterparts, and Poltergeist is certainly one of them. It is not by any means a shot for shot copy, but it stays true to the original terrifying story line while exploring the vast opportunities of our modern culture that was not available in the 80’s.
The Bowen family moves into a house that was carelessly built over an entire graveyard. Hundreds, maybe thousands of lost souls trapped in Purgatory, unable to cross over. Instead, they infest the house, terrorize the Bowens, and abduct their youngest child, Madison. Desperate to cross over, they use Madison’s innocence as a guiding beacon. With nowhere else to turn, the Bowens hire a team of ghost hunters and a renowned exorcist to bring her back before she crosses over with the souls.
Most impressive was the audience’s exposure to the world in which Madison is trapped. Its simple architecture, terrifying atmosphere, and incredible CGI is enough to make the viewer skin crawl. Even more terrifying is the knowledge that an innocent child is trapped is such a Hell. It provides a sense of urgency that can’t be found in the original film.
These angry, desperate souls will stop at nothing to keep Madison as their beacon. Throughout this difficult journey to save this frightened child, each character experiences deep personal growth. Few things can effectively rearrange one’s priorities like the abduction and near death of a child.
Eric stops drinking. Amy ceases her incredible selfishness. Kendra pulls her face away from her iPhone and even smashes her television. A divorced couple even reconciles. Most importantly, Griffin overcomes his crippling fear. His love for his sister drives him into the darkness after her, and he personally brings her home. He is willing to sacrifice himself for his sister.
The entire family emerges this terrifying haunting safely. With their priorities in the right place, they are able to move past other obstacles in their lives (financial, materialistic, negligence, etc) and find a happy place as a strong family unit.