Even poltergeists have trouble vying for attention these days. We’re not talking about how the ‘remake’ compares to the original Steven Speilberg produced and Tobe Hooper directed film but instead, the Enfield haunting (the basis for the next The Conjuring film) suggests that targeting paranormal enthusiasts to earn box office coin is a good way to manifest dollars. Next year’s ghostly themed product has the potential to do far better than this rehash of a familiar tale.
Instead of the Freeling family, the Bowen family is getting tormented by spirits from the grave. Madison (Kennedi Clements) is a shining beacon of innocence and hope for them. For some unexplainable reason, she can guide them to the light. Griffin (Kyle Catlett), the middle child, has fears of his own, and Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is obsessed with social media. This elder sibling is far too removed from her family because of her reliance on technology (a computer and cell phone). When reality comes crashing upon her, she’s not ready to believe it.
The funny thing about this older of three siblings is her vague interest in the paranormal. She watches a lame para-reality television program named Haunted House Cleaners because it’s fashionable. When this fake program within a film makes a pointed stab at the paranormal reality shows, an opportunity is missed by not exploring how Carrigan (wonderfully played by Jared Harris) turned into a paranormal pop star. He’s clearly vested into “cleaning” evil spirits away from spooked locations, but not all of them, he admits, that were filmed for the television show were real.
This movie is a throwaway product that not many paranormal enthusiasts will take to. Fans of the original film will not like this remake because a lot of what’s beloved from the 1982 film is intentionally copied verbatim and intoned with the skill of a novice performer. Try as writer David Lindsay-Abaire and director Gil Kenan might to reinvent the original story for a new age, the fail here is that none of that matters when family is concerned. When hauntings often leave an undeniable impression upon its victims, the only hope folks may leave with is that they come out stronger in their faith. At least in this film’s case, it’s in a lesson that not every film deserves revisiting time and time again. Once is enough.