When I TiVoed this I thought I was getting the original 1982 film. Maybe it was because the description mentioned Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams. Somebody at DirecTV screwed up. I hadn’t been aware that there was a remake. Hell, I hadn’t even been aware that there had been two not-well-reviewed sequels. Oh, well, might as well look at it.
Naturally the special effects are much better. That’s just about all. I can’t say it’s bad, but there are several annoying things about it. One is the number of jump scares. You know, a hand suddenly reaches into the frame and grabs someone by the shoulder, accompanied by a shattering chord of scare music. Then … oh, it’s only you, Mom! Or a cat leaps on someone, again with the loud gotcha! music. This is the cheapest and least difficult way to scare an audience, and is the refuge of incompetent directors who don’t know how to construct a really scary scene.
Such people should study the shower scene in Psycho. There she is in the shower, about as vulnerable as a person ever gets. Then behind her, through the translucent shower curtain, we see the door open and the vague shape come in. No music at all, just the sound of the water. The figure gets closer but she doesn’t see it, and we want to shout at her to watch out! The curtain is whipped aside and then we get the screeching violins that make us want to scream ourselves. Gil Kenan, who directed this, would have staged it so that we’re looking only at her, in close-up, and then the curtain is ripped aside. Sure, we would jump, just as we would jump if someone gave us an electric shock, but we wouldn’t remember that moment any long than it takes to drive home. Nobody who saw Psycho will ever forget that scene.
The other annoying thing is how every time someone goes to investigate something they might as well be moving in slow motion. This is boring! If you hear a noise in your house, do you take ten seconds between steps? No, you walk over and see what’s going on behind that door. In a suspense movie you should never have your audience yawning and wishing the damn thing would speed up a little. Obviously Kenan thinks he’s heightening the tension, but all he’s doing is making us want to snooze. Like I said, this is not exactly a bad movie, but it’s not really worth your time. There are much better scary movies out there. Try The Babadook.