Earlier on in the year, I had a whole week of haunted house films. One of my friends reminded me of Poltergeist after I’d stated there just aren’t many good films in the genre. I’d somehow forgotten all about Poltergeist!
Construction engineer Steve (Craig T Nelson) moves into his new home on the estate which he’d planned and worked on. A beautiful family home, his wife, Diane (Jobeth Williams) loves it, but the kids are a bit suspicious. Daughter Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) starts taking calls on her toy telephone while the son Robbie (Oliver Robins) is spooked by the tree at his window. Then the chairs start moving on their own and Carol Anne gets dragged into the other side.
The film is so easy and enjoyable to watch. Directed by Tobe Hooper, I believe he barely added anything personally to this film and worked in Spielberg’s shadow as it looks and feels pure classic Spielberg, circa ET, Jaws & Close Encounters. In fact, is this the same house from ET? The characters are perfect, real, believable and likeable. The situation grows at a perfect pace allowing the characters the time to think about and deal with, first nervous, then excitement, some terror to pure despair as the daughter is lost although communicating via TV. The cast are excellent and work with a stunning natural script which allows the viewer access into their world.
Although I say Hooper plays second fiddle here, it’s beautifully shot with a key focus on the all American family, a reoccurring trait of Hooper. The film couldn’t be more American if it tried and it’s a desirable side of the USA, which looks so idyllic. To see this suburban, beautiful home torn apart by the supernatural forces is gripping. Also, I might add, when we see stuff moving around the house, it’s bloody terrifying. The first scene with the chairs when Diane finds them pulled away from the table is so creepy. To think, this kind of threat is all around, could happen in anyone’s home; this is real horror.
The film is groundbreaking in its use of a classic haunting plot in a contemporary staging. It’s accessible to all through situation horror, creating spooky environments but maintaining a level of respect to its audience to encourage viewings.
I’d forgotten about this one. I’d forgotten how amazing, enjoyable and easy it is to watch; I could hit the play button and watch it again.