I reviewed the second Poltergeist movie for last year’s marathon so it felt fitting to complete the trilogy and watch the third for this go around. I knew next to nothing about this one, other than I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say anything positive about it. Hopes were not high going into it.
On the plus side, one of the jump scares caused the cat to go tearing out of the room, so the movie has to be given some credit for that.
The only family member from the first two movies who returns here is Carol-anne, the youngest daughter who the ghosts desperately want for reasons I honestly can’t remember. In this one, she is staying with her Aunt and cousins and stuff in this giant skyscraper apartment building thing. Alas the ghosts aren’t ready to leave her alone just yet (I seriously for the life of me can’t remember why they want her to begin with so I’ll just assume possession I guess) so the hauntings begin once again. It starts small with tenants complaining that the building is very cold, and a crack appearing in the same spot of every mirror on each floor of the building.
Mirrors actually play a huge role in this movie, like in that Kiefer Sutherland movie about mirrors. “Scary Ass Reflections” I think it was called. They do get some pretty good mileage out of this. Reflections move differently from their source, evil people appear in them, scary mirror shit, you know the drill. Eventually it does get a little tired since they go back to the well of scary faces in the mirror a looooooooot, but they at least get a few unsettling moments out of it because let’s face it, mirrors are fucked up.
So that’s our plot really. Evil Reverand Ghost Man wants Carol-Anne for reasons I don’t remember, her family members don’t want that to happen. Sort of. Actually her Aunt is very vocal about her dislike of Carol-Anne. She repeatedly refers to her as a little brat, says she wishes she had never agreed to look after her, and at one point even suggests they ditch out on her and leave the building when shit is getting really bad. Granted that’s not the worst idea, but it’s a strange thing to hear from a character I’m reasonably sure we’re supposed to be rooting for.
Actually a lot of characters in this movie are kind of shitty. There’s this bratty little girl near the beginning who just says snotty insults to people and then never returns. Carol-Anne has this asshole psychiatrist who, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, believes all of this is Carol-Anne’s doing. Something about hypnosis and the power of suggestion, I’m not sure, it’s a stretch and the guy is a huge dick about it. Really the only good characters are Carol-Anne, her cousin played by Lara-Flynn Boyle and Tom Skeritt as her Uncle. I guess Zelda Rubenstein, the only other returning character as Tangina, is technically a good person but all she does is spout nonsense so I don’t know, I can’t get too attached to her. Oh and there’s this whole subplot about how the cousin and her friends are going to throw a party and want to sneak into the pool area and drink. It’s like this random other movie happening and it leads to essentially nothing. So there’s that.
So the plot is pretty thin but really it was pretty thin in the other Poltergeist movies as well. The key is whether or not it’s scary and the answer here is ehhhhhh no not really. There’s the aforementioned handful of creepy mirror scenes that happen early on, but after that there isn’t a whole lot going on. Couple of jump scares and some pretty neat effects (nothing quite like the worm in the second movie but a hand does smash through a face, which is always a pretty solid way to improve a movie) but a shockingly large chunk of this movie is spent watching characters wandering around looking for other characters. In fact, this is a great segue way into what is easily the movie’s biggest flaw.
Here’s the thing. You know how the girl’s name is Carol-Anne? Well if you don’t pick up on that right away, the movie will make damn sure you never forget it as I would say 70% of the dialogue is just characters shouting her name. I’m not even kidding. The middle portion of the movie is absolutely nothing but characters wandering around the building and yelling her name. It actually goes from bothersome, to completely hilarious, to almost unwatchable. I thought maybe it was just me but sure enough, this is a shared point of mockery for just about anyone who watches this movie. In fact, according to IMDB, her name is said a total of 121 times in this movie. Isn’t that insane?! This movie is like 90 minutes long! That’s more than one name drop per minute! How did nobody in editing watch that and realize that it’s the absolute worst?! It’s the main memory I’m going to walk away from this movie with.
Alas, Poltergeist III is not all that great. A few creepy sequences and I will give them credit for changing the location from a suburban home to a large skyscraper apartment building, but the whole experience is pretty dull, consistently almost entirely of wandering and name shouting. You probably don’t need to bother with this one.