Stars: Tony Moran, Christopher P. O’Reilly, Nicole Lasala, Dan Liebman, Jami Tennille, Sean Carmichael, Kati Salowsky, Camille Farnan, Michaelah Noelle Nunes, Charles Everett Tacker, Jeanne Lohnes | Written and Directed by Jordan Pacheco
A group of budding paranormal investigators decide to taunt spirits of the dead in a haunted house in an attempt to video an encounter with a real poltergeist. They get more than they bargained for when they awaken an angry evil force that follows them home, hungry not only for their souls, but also those of their loved ones.
Paranormal investigators… where would the direct to DVD market be without them these days? It seems each and every month we get another film fearuring a bunch of wanna-be ghost hunters going head-to-head with something or nothing. This time round we get people that provoke the undead in the hopes of hitting it big. Which is about as stupid as it sounds! But that’s the thing about American Poltergeist. It’s full of stupid people, doing stupid things, stupidly. And they’re too stupid to stop.
Which means the audience is in for a completely frustrating viewing experience.
It doesn’t help that early on the film seems to jump around from scene to scene, cutaway to cutaway, without any semblance of story construction or pacing. Add that to random inserts from ANOTHER set of ghost hunters (on the TV) explaining about the tech they use and American Poltergeist seems to be doing its damndest to put viewers off. Those are just some examples of the amateur-hour production values of the film. Funnily enough, at one point during the film a character exclaims to his coworker: “You don’t care abouth this stuff, so why bother showing up?” The same of which could be said of the cast and crew involved here.
I could overlook such things as poor production values, amateur acting, etc., if American Poltergeist had at least something new and/or interesting to say but it doesn’t. Instead it retreads ground seen in many, many, other films of this ilk. Oh, and if you’re wondering, this particular [American] poltergeist movie DOES crib from the more well known, much better made, big budget 80s horror. Right down to having a child enthralled by the white noise on the TV!
On the plus side, American Poltergeist at least has an effective soundtrack. It may become overwrought at times (though when it does it reminded me of the early 80s Italian horror soundtracks) but at least it has the right touch of terror in its tones.
American Poltergeist is out on DVD now from Left Films.