POLTERHEIST ** UK 2018 Dir: David Gilbank. 86 mins
Another gimmicky title to join the likes of POULTRYGEIST and CLOWNTERGEIST, this expands writer-director David Gilbank’s same-named 2016 short to feature length. A hybrid of small-time British crime movie and supernatural horror comedy, it opens with harsh cricket bat torture as money collectors Tariq (Sid Akbar Ali) and Boxy (Jamie Cymbal) are given a four day time line to recover a dead gangster’s buried cash by their flamboyantly insane boss (Pushpinder China). Boxy, a panic-prone KNIGHT RIDER fan, and trigger-happy Tariq end up taking the deceased’s loved one hostage and using police psychic Alice Moon (Jo Mousley) to communicate with the dead to locate the money.
In the process, she is possessed by his spirit. Some of the barbs at racial, regional and class conflicts in Brexit-era Britain are quite amusing, though the script swiftly falls back on the low humour of laddish Brit crime comedies, with grim one-liners (“You look like you’ve swallowed a bucket of cum”), dialogue references to “bummers” and communications with the other side that result in questions like “Frank, what’s it like to have tits?” The Tarantino-inspired criminal banter offers contrived petty arguments about stationary, and the horror content has little to offer beyond extreme projectile vomiting. Gilbank aims for a tone pitched between laughs and pathos, but unworkable gags (including a skit about “Ku Klux Clit”) doom it, despite the slick look and an engaging twist ending involving a cute canine.
Review by Steven West