Tuesday, 26 May 2015

REVIEW - POLTERGEIST (GIL KENAN)


A strange, garish horror film, at once wholly functional in some respects and wholly unconventional in others. The non-traditional approach is manifested mostly in questionable narrative diversions, though, and not in any dedication toward innovation or idiosyncrasy. In fact, Poltergeist is not dissimilar from the film that begat it, in that it eschews certain horror film cliches in favour of a more playful, child-friendly tone that befits its family focus. That sense of mischief, often shot in daylight or with harsh non-natural light, is less scary than unsettling, and Poltergeist is heavily reliant on engendering immediate spooks rather than lingering terror. It's only frightening as long as the adrenaline keeps flowing. What Gil Kenan can make of this appears in his handling of certain visual elements, specifically the film's imaginative effects. A nighttime attack on the house that is the prime location here is full of memorable imagery, and a climactic journey into a nearby dimension is so evocatively eerie you rather wish the film spent longer in this netherworld. The screenplay positions it as a vital component in a critique on American attitudes towards property and possession, particularly on society's addiction to inessential electronic devices - this is a slant that even writer David Lindsay-Abaire seems only semi-interested in, so you can hardly blame Kenan for missing it completely. It's just another suggestion of strangeness in Poltergeist, a film that craves to work as another haunted house horror film, of the sort that is currently in vogue, but that's eventually just too conventional to even compare.