I’ve been on a roll with positive reviews lately and this is another one to add to the total. I’ve never been a Poltergeist fan and didn’t even care for the original one. The second Poltergeist film was completely terrible and one of the worst horror films out there. It’s safe to say that I had very low expectations walking into this one, but shockingly enough…it was actually good. It wasn’t even just okay or anything like that, but it was actually really good. I was shocked as I kept on watching and the film kept on being fun. It’s not perfect by any means and the teenagers are annoying, but the film still went above and beyond my expectations. Who knows, maybe a fourth Poltergeist would actually be worth it.
Carol Anne is now living with her aunt and uncle. Her parents needed a break from the supernatural threats for a little while or maybe Kane forced them to part ways for a while. They didn’t tell Pat and Bruce about the demons because they probably figured that nobody would believe the story. Bruce is the manager of a super tall building and the family lives in a nice neighborhood. Unfortunately, it it not enough to deter Kane. The spirit returns and begins to haunt everyone in the building. He won’t stop until he has Carol Anne, but she intends to put up a fight. Can she stop him once and for all?
First off, this film doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as the first two. It’s still serious, but we don’t have the characters looking solemn and asking sketchy people for help. The new guardians don’t really believe in ghosts and that’s that. I don’t want to call the film campy either. It does its best to be scary as there are a lot of jump scares and Kane is a real threat, but I don’t think you’ll find yourself scared. That being said, the film is nice and atmospheric. If you were to watch this at night, then I think you’d get an extra kick out of it.
This film tries out quite a few different plots. One of Kane’s plans involves replacing everyone around Carol Anne with spirit duplicates. Her cousin is taken over along with her boyfriend and slowly but surely they increase their ranks. It ultimately didn’t really go anywhere, but it was still an interesting plot. Unfortunately, this meant that it was curtains for Dr. Seaton. He was only going to last so long anyway, but I was sad to see him go. He was hands down the best character in the film. His complete denial of spirits and the supernatural was pretty incredible given everything that was happening.
Carol Anne was a fun heroine to have around. She’s a little too young to be fighting these spooks, but at least she is a nice kid. Carol Anne helps Donna sneak out to the party and tries to keep everything to herself. She doesn’t want to involve the others in this fight so she often goes to battle on her own. Naturally, this is a little dicey since she is outmatched and the ghosts have an easier time when it is 1 on 1, but I can respect her decision to keep everyone out of it. Pat was the mean character of the group. She didn’t want to have to look out for Carol and she made this clear. She had her big moment at the end where she finally became friends with Carol Anne, but it was rather late and hard to believe. At least Bruce was a nice uncle. He did his best to help Carol Anne out and was pretty patient with all of the crazyness that was happening. Towards the end of the film he also did his best to get Carol Anne back from the darkness even when Pat said that they should just leave her. He was a lot more heroic than I would have expected and was certainly the best character behind Seaton.
Donna was another mean character. She even states that she doesn’t like Carol Anne while on the phone with her “friends” and naturally the main character hears her. Since Carol Anne is nice like that, she isn’t bothered by it. She just hopes that they can still be pals even if Donna won’t think of her as family. Donna never really gets much better and breaking into the pool and stealing snacks from her Dad’s company just makes the matter worse. Seriously, she is one of the most irresponsible baby sitters that I’ve seen in a while. Her friends were all pretty terrible so no need to talk about them.
Dr. Seaton was the unsung hero here. Even when cups would shatter into nothing, Even when Seaton was attacked, Even when reality was warping right in front of him, Seaton was never shaken. He strongly believed that Carol Anne just had strong hypnotic abilities that could affect anyone in an instant. He never dropped this hypothesis even after seeing two kids come back from the mirror world, hands running around, and all kinds of other stuff. Seaton always had a very exhausted look about him since he was tired of the nonsense. He went as far as to head back to the skyscraper when he thinks that Carol Anne is prank calling him. It may have been a fatal move, but you have to like how energetic this guy is. He never runs out of energy and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Maybe he would have fared better if it hadn’t been a 2 vs 1 fight in the end. He adds a lot of levity to the film and does it very well. The humor isn’t silly or over the top, but just very direct and to the point.
Tangina was one of the big characters in the first two films so it makes sense that she would return here. She actually doesn’t look that great here. Lets just say that she finally meets her match this time and Kane is through playing around. She’s the very definition of a character who is all talk and no action. She gets her hype moment by the end of course, but I definitely can’t say that I’m a fan of her. She does yell a lot though so you’ll certainly have to acknowledge her most of the time. As for Kane, I still don’t really get why he is doing all of this. It seems like he wants her body at some points so he can be alive in the real world again and at other points it seems like he just wants to destroy her for revenge. Regardless of the motive, Kane just seems confused most of the time. He’s persistent though since he is constantly showing up. I guess he’s not bad as a villain, he’s certainly much better than how he was in the second film.
While scary may not be the right word to use for this film, I suppose you could call it creepy. There are a lot of scenes involving the mirror dimension where you can see the spirits while the characters can’t. It is a little unnerving to see them hiding in the halls and ready to pounce on the heroes when they get close. The visuals were actually a little ahead of their time here. I’d say that the special effects crew really did their best considering that this film had a very limited budget. The very ending of the film is also pretty hype although not totally unexpected. It’s a horror film so there has to be some kind of twist at the end right? It’s one of those very interpret-able endings so you get to decide what it means. Whatever you go with, it may not end too well for the heroes. Kane doesn’t give up…even when the film is over.
Overall, Poltergeist 3 was a surprise hit. The new locale really helped to make the scenery better than the first two films. There haven’t been many horror films that take place inside of a large building like this one and I’d like to see more do it. It gives the film a claustrophobic feel since there is nowhere for the heroes to run. Even if Carol Anne wanted to leave the building, she’d have to go 100 flights and the elevators never work when the spirits are around. It really ups the danger factor because while the uncle and aunt may be in the same building, they are still very far away. (The party is on the ground floor of course) The film never drags on and it’s just a blast. The only subplot that is pretty iffy is Donna’s and it doesn’t get too much screen time. That’s seriously the only thing that I can remember not liking about the film. The rest of it is just super solid. You may think that the building would get old after a while, but with so many floors and different backdrops, it stays unique. The heroes even head to a parking lot at one point with a mystical pool and it made for another very chilling scene. The best way to describe how the film can be kind of scary and yet not really is that it’s very strange. The film has a lot of strange visuals and circumstances which are amped up by the music and it’ll keep you unsettled the whole time. The film also strays away from disturbing insect type scenes like the first film tried to pull and it’s also surprisingly very tame. There is really no objectionable violence to be found here this time. It’s easily one of the safest horror films that it still pretty thrilling and that’s a winning combination. I highly recommend checking out this film. Odds are that you never watched it because you figured that it had to be poorly made since it’s the third film in a series, but that is just not the case this time. Check it out and prepare for an epic experience!