Sunday, August 21, 2011


In a cookie cutter suburban California development, a seemingly normal family is sleeping when a little girl is drawn out of her bed to the television, which she remains glued to until her parents put her back to sleep. The next night she is summoned in the same way and gives the famous announcement: "They're here". After this point it is clear the house is haunted, but the specters appear playful as they rearrange chairs in the kitchen and slide items across the linoleum. However, their disposition rapidly changes and young Carol Ann is sucked into another dimension. A local psychologist is summoned but she soon realizes the task is too much for her to take on. As the mystery of the haunting is revealed, an exorcist is called in to hopefully retrieve the young girl before she is gone forever. "Poltergeist" was produced by Steven Spielberg from one of his stories and is set in the same kind of suburb as E.T. (which was released around the same time), this time revealing a more sinister side. Directed by Tobe Hooper, who was known for far more gory horror films such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", this is a nice use of cheesy special effects and shock moments, which are achieved mostly through misdirection. I respond much more to a film like this than I do to say "The Evil Dead" which is more concerned with schlock and crappy fx whereas here we have well thought out characters and nice scare moments. As the parents, JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson give the movie weight during times when the effects border on the laughable and cartoonish. I was surprised how influential the movie is as well, now seeing how many have used elements from this film, particularly the recent "Insidious" which is a direct ripoff. "Poltergeist" achieves the fundamental goal of a horror movie by providing scares and does something more through good filmmaking and by providing well flesh out characters.