POLTERHEIST: Making Connections, & Knight Rider DVDs
Anybody who knows me knows I’ll watch almost every single film genre, from musicals to vigilante films to slap stick comedy to documentaries about 1920s German Expressionism, and everything in between.
That said, one genre (or to be precise, sub-genre) I have never 100% warmed to is gangster movies — and even more so, British gangster movies.
Polterheist starts with a piece of music very reminiscent to another great B-movie, a ventriloquist dummy movie called Dead Silence, so in a weird kind of way it settled my nerves (which is a funny thing to say when watching a film about, well, some weird stuff to be honest).
But that didn’t last long, and this isn’t a sentence I say very often, but a “cricket torture” scene is one of the first things we see. Nearly everything I watch reminds me of something else, but this sequence had a strong flavour of Escape from New York –– specifically the scene near the end of the film where the crazies make the president stand up against a wall and shoot at him.
Again, this is a funny thing to type when discussing a horror movie, but my worst fears came true as the exposition scenes came on. It seemed to be just a typical film of this ilk — a couple of gangsters accidentally kill another gangster and have certain amount of time to get his hidden money back — but those feeling again slowly went away.
Talking of John Carpenter films, I at one point in those scenes miss-heard somebody say “your shit” as “shitters” and thought it was a Christine reference. The time limit aspect of the film made me picture a “race against time” film, something Carpenter is famous for. So coincidence or not, it was a welcome element.
Following the two main protagonists, it slowly dawned on me that the script had a few more subtle elements that most other films like this seem to miss. It ironically played out like a buddy cop movie in my mind. Eventually on their journey, they wind up interacting with a psychic medium in a Johnny Wishbone moment.
This is where Polterheist changed gears for me, and I really started to warm to it. Not just because it was horror, but because it was beginning to be its own thing, using the supernatural element was a genius stroke to break things up. This supernatural trick doesn’t always work, but it really endeared itself to me in this case.
Thinking about how the film was put together and how I link things together in my mind, the film uses the dislocated time frame mechanic. Every time I see anything that uses this I always think of films like Pulp Fiction, but wrote it off as a coincidence. About 50 minutes into Polterheist, a couple of the main characters are sitting down and behind them is a poster for Pulp Fiction (and this time, I didn’t I imagine it).
The film took quite a few turns that I didn’t see coming, and nothing really shocks me to a point anymore. But Polterheist wasn’t shocking in the conventional sense, it was more a really pleasant surprise and then when it surprised you, it somehow pulled the rug from under you — but it didn’t feel cheap or just for the sake of it.
The moral of the story is: don’t worry about getting taken out of your comfort zone slightly by watching a film you might not normally watch. Or maybe the moral is “don’t accidentally kill a gangster” — I’m not sure, I get easily confused.
And one last thought: I think any film where a main character in a very stressful moment says “where are my Knight Rider DVD’s?” is worth a watch for sure.