Article 3727 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-13-2011
Posting Date: 10-28-2011
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight
What it is: Horror, Spielberg style
A suburban family discovers that their home is the source of paranormal activity, but they really begin to panic when their youngest daughter is spirited away into another dimension.
I remember that when this movie came out, it was considered something of a companion piece to E.T. – THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, as both movies came from the mind of Steven Spielberg and dealt with various aspects of childhood, with this movie concentrating on childhood fears. I remember there was a bit of controversy about how much of the movie was Spielberg’s work and how much was Tobe Hooper’s; after all, the movie feels a lot more like a Spielberg movie than anything from Hooper. There’s a lot I really like about the movie. The way it taps into childhood horror is quite memorable, with the creepy tree outside of the window being my favorite touch. The typical Spielbergian touches in the dialogue can be quite fun, and Zelda Rubenstein steals the movie as a diminutive psychic who intends to clean out the house. There are some great ideas as to the nature of the horror as well, though I don’t think the movie overall quite uses them as well as it could. Still, I have to admit that I find the movie more interesting than scary; there’s something about all of the special effects pyrotechnics that actually makes the movie seem less scary to me, especially during the big finale. In some ways, I feel about this movie’s horror content as I feel about Spielberg’s 1941’s comedy content; both movies end up trying too hard to be big to effectively keep focused on their primary intent. Nevertheless, that’s not a fatal flaw in this case, as the movie does remain consistently interesting.