Poltergeist. A ghost that wreaks havoc by way of noises, throwing objects and physical harm. The basis for the Tobe Hooper 1982 film or should I say, Steven Speilberg’s 1982 film, who actually would’ve directed it except he was doing a film about a lost alien. So, anyway, I got round to watching this film after hearing that it was a ‘classic’ and ‘great’.
The majority of the film is based in a suburban family house inhabited by the Freelings. Steven (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), Carol-Anne (Heather O’Rourke), Dana (Dominique Dunne) and Robbie (Oliver Robins). They are your average family except for little Carol-Anne who experiences paranormal activity within the house. She converses with the ghosts and they seem friendly. The whole family starts to see unusual things; chairs being stacked on top of each other, lights turning on and off, the T.V constantly buzzing etc. Just your normal friendly ghost.
Except one night, the ghosts inexplicably harm the family and abduct little Carol-Anne into their realm. It’s now up to the family to rescue Carol-Anne. But will Carol-Anne wander into ‘the light’ and be taken away?
Poltergeist isn’t very scary. Even though directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper, the film is heavily influenced by Steven Speilberg, leaving the film more comedic and less scarier then it potentially could be. The ghosts look and feel cartoonish almost like those at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. They aren’t scary and it feels dated.
The acting is O.K and I thought Heather O’Rourke did quite well considering her age. The story was decent but I felt more horror could have been added in. If only Tobe Hooper was given full reins to this project. I know some people will like these types of film, sort of family-orientated horror/comedy but I didn’t enjoy this film. It starts off well, with the famous ‘They’re here!’, leaving the viewer wondering who ‘they’re’ means. But then it loses this mysterious aura and doesn’t offer much for horror fans.
There are some comedic moments within the film. In one scene, Steven Freeling tries to evade his boss’ eyes to what it going on in the house by getting his attention, meanwhile, a piano moves around in the background. These moments are disjointed and I think should have been omitted from the film. The filmmakers should have stuck to one option (horror or comedy) or at least carried the whole comedy theme through, but that also wouldn’t have worked, as the main story is about a little girl being abducted by evil ghosts. You can tell I’m beginning to get sick of this film…
The film is overrated and I feel quite dated. It doesn’t offer the scares and is more orientated towards the family market. Seeing Hooper’s name on the film excited me quite a bit about the prospects of this film but I feel he was held back by Speilberg. I found the film boring and was left disappointed by it.