Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural horror flick directed by Tobe Hooper with the writing and producing credits going to Steven Spielberg. The story centers on the Freeling family and their struggles in dealing with a mystical threat that has taken over their dwelling and abducted one of their own in Carol Anne.
a.) Carol Anne.
She is one of if not the saddest story in Hollywood history may she rest in peace. Judging by her performance in this film, I think Heather O’Rourke would have grown up to be a mega-star if she hadn’t met her demise so early in life. I found her character Carol Anne quite likeable and one who drew a lot of sympathy from me. In life, we all find ourselves in very calamitous situations that for the most part, we feel we do not deserve and that is pretty much the girl’s arc in this. She gets trapped in an odd supernatural realm that exists within the house she is living in; a situation that only her family and interested persons on the other side can get her out of. Her shaky dialogue was incredibly authentic during the scenes where paranormal stuff happen in her bedroom as well as in other rooms and I was heavily invested in her predicament all through.
b.) Diane & Steve Freeling.
Stellar is a clear understatement when describing Jobeth Wiliams’ and Craig T. Nelson’s work in this photoplay. Playing Diane Freeling and Steve Freeling respectively, they are parents to 3 kids in Carol, Anne, Dana and Robbie who all live in a suburban Hollywood home. It’s a peaceful and coordinated set-up but that all changes when a metaphysical force takes over the house and thus, as you would expect, Diane and Steve’s main priority is the safety of their loved ones.
In spite of the fact that there were all sorts of uncanny events happening all around their home, primarily their daughter’s vanishing, they got accustomed to them pretty fast because they knew how important it was that the welfare of Carol Anne be secured. If it meant bringing into the fold a team of parapsychologists to investigate the matter or even a spiritual medium in Tangina Barrons (Zilda Rubinstein), they were not ready to give in to the dark forces of the preternatural. The process does take a heavy toll on them both physically and mentally. They live every minute of every day in utter destitution trying to make out plausible ways of bringing back their girl but at the same time, they have to live in this dangerous dwelling while they are at it. I don’t know about you but I’d be running mad just at the prospect of all this potentially happening to me or my would-be family; I think I’ve watched enough YouTube videos and heard of enough related stories to be open to the possibility of the incomprehensible even though I haven’t witnessed it myself.
c.) Dana and Robbie Feeling.
The remaining Feeling siblings had it rough after their sister’s disappearance and understandably so. Unlike their parents, Dominique Dunne’s and Oliver Robins’ characters need to dig deep into their courageous selves simply because they are children; there’s not much to it. The film does show you how scared and vulnerable they are at different instances; some of which happens before Carol disappears like in the case of Robbie. He is afraid of a the night-storm thunder and therefore goes to the lengths of pulling his father out of his marital pleasures so that his issues can be attended to.
On the other hand we have Dana; she might be older, confident and an occasional tough-talker but this whole scenario shakes her to the bone, literally. There is a scene where she is seated on the sofa holding on to herself and endlessly shivering as her mum was trying to reach out to Carol Anne. I am and will always be quick to point out exceptional performances from juvenile actors and even though Oliver’s character is more present in the story than his onscreen sister, I indeed acknowledge that they had their own roles to play in the movie and they did them well.
The Theme, Boons and Banes.
First off, let me just acknowledge the majesty that is the 1st scene; it set a really great tone for what was to come. We see O’Rourke’s character waking up from her bed, strutting down the stairs towards the television when everyone is asleep and then all of a sudden she starts saying weird stuff loudly which her family picks up on. When they come to where she is at, Carol turns to them and says “They’re here!” The latter, my extinguished readers, is what I need from a proper horror movie. An opening scene that leaves you with plenty of questions concerning the film’s plot and its potential eeriness that it might possess.
I do not intend to demean Tobe Hooper and his work in this flick but Steven Speilberg, though he only wrote and produced it, was pretty much the essential cog that had this movie machine running with the intensity it had and I felt it. Steven’s movies always have various elements to them that slightly deviate from the tone which the film’s genre is based off. There’s comedy i.e. the Freeling residence in a back and forth argument with the neighbours over which television transmission should show in their respective houses. The music is good, though it can get a bit overboard in some instances. The story is rich, filled with authentic tension that is riveting; I genuinely felt sorry for the Freeling family members as they go about their struggles. I mean, if a tree snatching a boy from his room and almost devouring him or household appliances moving around on their own doesn’t elicit any heartfelt feelings from you then you should seriously evaluate yourself, no offense.
In spite of the praise I am giving this film, it does have its other side of the coin. The visual effects are dreadful; I can’t even begin to describe it. I guess you ought to see this film if you haven’t already to know what I mean. Additionally, If you have been reading my reviews regularly, you’ll notice I’m a keen product placement detector. It’s very evident that Star Wars wanted to have its presence felt on here; there’s a blanket that Robbie uses which has a Chewbacca figure on it, there’s a Darth Vader action figure on a shelf in the children’s room and finally, a Han Solo toy gun makes an appearance. They are astoundingly noticeable but I wasn’t paying too much attention to them.
Well, there’s no hiding behind the fact that this motion-picture is something that satisfied me wholesomely throughout its run-time. Poltergeist had me on the edge of my seat when I was supposed to be on the edge of my seat and that, my friends, is stuff that horror movies should be made of.