Sunday, 29 January 2012

Poltergeist

Poltergeist; horror, USA, 1982; D: Tobe Hooper, S: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, Dominique Dunne

The Freelings lose their attribute of an average family when ghosts show up in their house and trap their daughter Carol in a TV set. When Freelings call parapsychologists, they discover that the cause of objects levitating and other freaky phenomena lies in the fact that the house was built on a cemetery. Mother and father, together with the crew, organize a huge rescue mission when they find a portal to another dimension and get Carol back to the real world. The house implodes while the Freelings move out to a motel.

Spectacular special effects, nominated for an Oscar, contributed to the rural horror "Poltergeist" that still seems creepy despite shortcomings in dramaturgy. Producer and screenwriter (and according to some, 'de facto' director in some scenes since he was more dominant than 'the jure' director Hooper) Steven Spielberg conjured up a story about a normal family in an isolated province, which gave him the chance to have an excellent build up of suspense when the ghosts suddenly start showing up in the house: just like "The Haunting", he knows that it's always the scariest when unknown forces hit in a large building that is far away from anywhere. However, he failed in creating a cohesive whole of the whole matter, even though some would argue that ghosts don't need to have a reason to suddenly attack and anguish an ordinary family. A few good scenes with style, like the camera following a heroine who is in front of a table, bends under it but when she stands up again she finds a whole bunch of chairs were set up on it in the meantime, have spark - a similar trick like that was later used in a scene in "The Sixth Sense" - whereas some examples of sophisticated suspense are exquisite (the tree attacking through the window; the scene where the kid looks under the bed is already a legend) yet they did not conceal the superficiality, i.e. the motivation of ghosts, nor were the characters fully developed, whereas some cheap shocks and examples of patchwork reduce the enjoyment value, though the movie still holds up well today.

Grade:++

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