Bad horror movies, like any other genre, are a dime a dozen. For most potential viewers, a movie’s poor rating is enough of a deterrent to keep from watching it. With me, that’s not the case. Over the years, there have been several low rated horror movies that I felt had interesting enough concepts to keep my attention; American Poltergeist is not one of them.
American Poltergeist is a haunted house/demonic possession story that takes place in a surprisingly modern home – this alone is a red flag, as new houses don’t typically have the type of history necessary to perpetuate a haunting. The key word there is typically, as some houses are simply unfortunate victims to the most abhorrent of humans. There is nothing new and nothing unique about this haunting, either.
To make the already bland story worse, the characters are as flat as a sheet of paper and the acting is worse than reality television. Not only were their lines predictable, but the lack of emotion put into their mannerisms left much to be desired. The main character of this story is a girl named Taryn. She is the sole survivor of a horrific murder in the house and is later adopted and raised by another family, blissfully unaware of her past. In an odd turn of events, she moves back into her childhood home with a few friends, her brother, and his girlfriend. His girlfriend, Niki, exhibits odd behavior that is conveniently explained by an unusual sleepwalking disorder.
The woman who owns the house is Taryn’s stepmother, Dianna. She has an unusual relationship with Officer Alvarez who, coincidentally, is the police officer that “rescued” Taryn. She explains to Taryn that Taryn’s father could not have children, and that statement alone is fairly self-explanatory. At one point, Dianna is taking a bath and, for some godawful reason, she is laying in the tub with her head near the faucet. (Seriously, I can’t think of anyone who bathes in that direction.
In addition to a poor cast of characters and the backwards bath, there were other scenes that made little to no sense: the pool’s water outside is nearly black, and at one point Taryn attempts to leave, despite a tandem parking situation in which her car sits between two others. Also, the movie’s cover is, most definitely, not the house where the film takes place.
Lastly, the thing that really, truly irked me about this movie, and the reason I watched it in the first place, deals with Lizzie Borden. Supposedly, this is the Borden house. Aside from a few mentions of the Borden murders and the Lizzie Borden “song,” there is absolutely nothing in this movie that even remotely ties it to the mythos surrounding the Borden murders.