Sam Raimi is making a habit out of re-imagining nostalgic properties, between him directing this week's Oz the Great and Powerful (look for our review tomorrow) and co-writing and producing a remake of his own Evil Dead. Not to mention, he's producing MGM's remake of the 1982 suburbia horror classic Poltergeist, as was produced and co-scripted by Steven Spielberg (based on his story) and directed by Tobe Hooper (the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Raimi and his longtime producing partner Robert Tapert joined the Poltergeist task force last year. They are working alongside Nathan Kahane (who produced Raimi's Drag Me to Hell) and Roy Lee - who popularized Japanese horror here in the States by producing remakes of The Ring and The Grudge - in an ongoing effort to update Spielberg and Hooper's film, which is (essentially) a family-in-crisis drama dressed as a supernatural horror romp.
It's been speculated that Raimi could end up both producer and director on the Poltergeist remake (which, technically speaking, qualifies as a franchise reboot). However, Deadline has learned that the director's spot will instead be occupied by Gil Kenan, whose resume includes the acclaimed 2006 computer-animated family-friendly haunted house flick Monster House and the live-action fantasy-adventure City of Ember (which earned a decent, but overall more lukewarm, reception).
Kenan being hired on can be read as a sign that Poltergeist 2.0 isn't shaping up as a significantly more gruesome take on the story, seeing how his speciality lies with making entertainment that's not too scary for young audiences and has substance of value for older moviegoers. Of course, you can expect an uptick in the quality of effects and production values from the 1982 version.
The Poltergeist remake is being scripted by David Lindsay-Abaire, a co-writer on Raimi's Oz flick and all-audiences approved titles like Robots, Inkheart and Rise of the Guardians. However, it's his work on writing both the original Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play and acclaimed film adaptation Rabbit Hole - which tells the tale of a couple mourning the death of their child - in combination with everything else, that suggests Abaire can retell Spielberg's original story in an engaging, relatively spooky and emotionally-meaningful way.
In other words: this particular classic horror remake seems much more promising now than when it was first announced over three years ago. If Raimi's Evil Dead remake lives up to expectations, accompanied by Kimberly Peirce’s new Carrie adaptation turning out decent in October, then we could finally start getting to a place where horror remakes aren't stigmatized as much and dismissed solely on principle and track record (see: every remake from Platinum Dunes).
Let us know your own thoughts about the Poltergeist remake in the comments section. As always, we'll keep you up-to-date as the story develops.
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