My Favorite Scene From Poltergeist (1982)
The internet has failed me, so I figured I’d write a little bit about my favorite scene from the film Poltergeist. You see, the most amazing thing about Poltergeist isn’t the effects or the big set pieces, it’s the small moments.
There’s a scene that comes in the middle of the film, sometime after Carol Anne has succumbed to the house, trapped somewhere between the worlds of the living and the dead. As you can imagine, the family isn’t having the easiest time dealing with such a fantastical situation, but they are doing their best to carry on.
Carol Anne’s mother Diane (Jo Beth Williams) is carrying some laundry down the hall, when she hears Carol Anne seemingly crying softly from the other side of her bedroom door. Now, Diane is no fool, so she hesitantly places her hand on the door, and softly begs to know if it’s Carol Anne. When she finally pulls the door open, a massive scream penetrates the hallway, and chaos erupts from inside the room. Diane slams the door shut, and collapses against it. All she can do is sob and softly whisper how sorry she is.
The scene isn’t necessarily played for the big scare, but the small one. What you have is a mother grieving the loss of child, one she cannot get to, one that she cannot be positive is still safe. It’s frighting, and heartbreaking, and just. So. Powerful. There’s a special kind of horror that can make you feel a sadness that’s almost undefinable.
Poltergeist is and always shall be, a masterpiece.