22nd May2019

‘Polterheist’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jo Mousley, Sid Akbar Ali, Jamie Cymbal, Pushpinder Chani, Kevin Curtin, Gemma Head, Matthew Lewney, Polly Lister, Amy Mountford, Huw Blainey, Stacey Coleman | Written by David Gilbank, Gemma Head, Paul Renhard | Directed by David Gilbank


I have a few personal rules here on Nerdly that I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned before, yet both affect the films we cover on the site and the “press” we give certain films… One is that we don’t review any film that features football hooliganism; and the second is we don’t review British gangster movies. I know thats a strange pair rules but both are in place for very similar reasons – I don’t feel the need to glorify either subject; and the majority of films we get asked to cover around these two themes usually do just that!

However Polterheist does quite the opposite of glorifying gangster life, if anything it portrays it as something of a mockery. Plus what’s not to love about a genre-bending film that mixes guns, gangsters and ghosts to great aplomb?

The film follows two gangsters, Tariq and Boxy, who are given 72 hours to discover the whereabouts of a stash of drug money stolen by their boss. There’s only one problem…they just murdered him. Frantic to find the cash, the hapless criminals kidnap Alice, a psychic medium, and force her to contact the dead gang boss. Unfortunately for them, they only succeed in unleashing an evil spirit bent on revenge.

Originally a short film that did the rounds in 2016, Polterheist takes that original story and expands upon it, fleshing out not only the characters but the “underworld” in which they inhabit. And what a gangster underworld this is. From the boss of the Asian gang, Uday – who spends his time playing cricket with not just regulation issue balls but also the balls of his enemies. To the Polish gangsters who spend most of their time hanging out in strip clubs and bowling – all the while wearing the most garish shirts possible… These guys, whilst they may be violent, are some of the most inept, stupid and moronic gangsters ever captured on camera. And it turns out Frank, the DEAD guy, is actually the smartest of the lot!

The blackest of black comedies, Polterheist‘s success rides, for the most part, on its cast. In particular the trio of Sid Akbar Ali, Jamie Cymbal and Jo Mousley as Tariq, Boxy and Alice respectively. Of the three it’s Jo Mousley as the psychic Alice – who takes on the persona of the dead Frank after summoning him from beyond the grave – who’s the real star. Her performance as both Alice and Frank is a tour-de-force of sheer acting ability; the way she slowly morphs into Frank, taking on a more aggressive nature and more male-orientated mannerisms as the film progresses is a joy to watch. Yes, whilst the initial “transformation” is immediate, there’s a real subtley to just how much Frank takes over Alice’s body the longer the film goes on – a true testament to Jo Mousley  acting prowess.

Writer/director David Gilbank’s film walks the very fine line between laughter and scares, the supernatural aspect of the film serving the laughs and vice-versa. Between the comical characters, odd locations (Bradford has never looked so odd on film), everything about Polterheist screams laughs – in the scariest way possible of course. Another win for modern British horror methinks!

A future cult classic if ever there was one, Polterheist is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.


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