Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Time Out
Although the sub-religious gobbledegook (including a tiresome midget medium) is hard to take, it is consistently redeemed by its creator's dazzling sense of craft.
Poltergiest is no nonstop scream express; at times it pulls its punches (Spielberg wants that PG rating), and at times its effects are bigger than life and less than terrifying. But like Spielberg's Jaws, which was a perfect genre movie, Poltergeist does what it's supposed to do about as well as it can be done.
Poltergeist's most canny conceit is how it takes the concept of a haunted house—up to that point a gothic, remote icon (you practically had to accept a dare and then drive halfway across the state to ever find yourself in one)—and plops it in the middle of the most mundane of all possible locations: American suburbia.
A surprisingly yet successfully restrained lesson in how to haunt a house.
Poltergeist often sounds as if it had been dictated by an exuberant twelve-year-old, someone who's sitting by a summer campfire and determined to spin a tale that will keep everyone else on the edges of their knapsacks far into the night.
Washington Post
Poltergeist proves closets are full of skeletons and scurrying ids. Hooper and company arouse childhood fears, teasing away adult defenses, making us hunker in our seats as the kids dive under the "Star Wars" sheets. It gives us the jeebies, third stage, without letting up, but spiritually, it's uplifting. [4 June 1982, p.13]
There are inconsistencies — why does a brand new house have the standard creaking door? — but the pace is so compelling that it is impossible to carp.
Though the shocks are well conveyed, it's the sweetness that lingers, making this the first cute and cuddly entry in the genre.
Poltergeist is an effective thriller, not so much because of the special effects, as because Hooper and Spielberg have tried to see the movie's strange events through the eyes of the family members, instead of just standing back and letting the special effects overwhelm the cast along with the audience.
Given the talents, Poltergeist is an annoying film because it could have been so much better.

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