The collapse of the suburbs and the rise of technology

In 1982 Steven Spielberg was the beginning of an incredible series of films that would inspire a generation of directors. In 1981, Spielberg directed the kidnappers of the missing ark s Harrison Ford, starting a series of films that are still part of popular culture today. A year later, he will direct the iconic film about childhoodET The Alien, a film about the power of friendship in the suburbs of America. While working on ET, Spielberg was part of a different kind of film about the suburbs. In 1982, Spielberg chose Tobe Hooperthe director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre to lead a story about ghosts of various kinds, Poltergeist.

About 40 years later, the film’s legacy is often embroiled in controversy. Because of the tragic death of young actresses Dominic Dunn and Heather O’Rourkethe film is often lost in Hollywood superstitions. Poltergeist there is also a mystery surrounding its true authorship. While Hooper is a director of merit, many speculate that due to his daily involvement in the production, Spielberg himself is the director of the film, essentially at the same time as he ET. This idea is interesting when you take a closer look at the heritage of Poltergeist, 40 years later. While ET demonstrates the idyllic side of the suburbs, Poltergeist demonstrates its darker side.


Poltergeist is the story of ghosts invading the home of the “average” American family since the 1980s. Steve (Craig T. Nelson) and Darlene Freeling (Jobet Williams) do their best to be good parents to their children, Dana (Dominke Dunn), RobbieOliver Robbins) and Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke). The film begins with the playing of the American national anthem and scenes from their picturesque neighborhood. This strange beginning sets the tone for the rest of the film; while things on the surface may look perfectly fine, there is a deep-seated problem waiting to emerge. Ironically, it seems that the Freelings could be neighbors of Elliott and Gertie, but instead of a friendly alien, the Freelings are attacked by evil spirits.

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After 40 years and with the advancement of technology, the ghosts themselves, although still scary, do not meet today’s standards. However, for today’s audience, the real horror of ghosts is the idea they represent: a technology that is invading the home and forever changing the lives of the once happy family. One of the ways the film sets this up is by showing the Freeling family doing normal everyday things. The audience is attached to them as people and as characters, which makes their commotion in the house more significant. We see the family eating and joking with each other. They really look happy and when threatened by ghosts, the audience feels as if their own home has been attacked.

The modern family of 2022 is flooded with technology and this has made our lives more comfortable, but our lives are now also about finding a balance so that we can look up to the world we live in, which can be difficult for many. For the Freeling family, the screen to which they are attached is their television screen. In addition, this screen is the channel for ghosts to attack the family. With the blue-gray TV flickering, Carol Ann approaches him with the curiosity that only a child can have when a ghost’s hand suddenly pops out of the screen. As the house shakes from the invasion of evil spirits, Carol Ann turns, almost facing the camera, and tells us the iconic line “They are here.”

Now the famous line can be viewed differently nowadays. What Carol Ann and her family don’t realize is that “they” have actually been there all along, and the television screen that attacks them has a deeper meaning. As ghosts move from seemingly harmless movements around the house, chairs that move on their own, to a physical attack on the family, we can look at this as a technology that comes into our lives in the beginning to benefit us, but after all, it has the power to divide us. This is a very subversive perception of a common element of science fiction that is found in modern programming such as Black mirror.

Later in the film, Carol Ann and Robbie are attacked by a tree that is possessed by one of the evil spirits of the house. The attack on the tree is frightening because it is the worst childhood nightmare that comes to life. Tucked away in your bed, the idea of ​​something knocking on your window and breaking through is a common fear that comes to life. The attack on the tree further shows how the ghosts invading the household are representative of the complete disintegration of the suburbs. The beginning of the happy scenes from the neighborhood in the film is compared to the fact that the neighborhood enters the house and becomes a threat to children. The safety of the house is compromised in a way that is frightening; if we are not safe in our own rooms, where are we safe?

Poltergeist was intended to be the story of Steven Spielberg’s ghost; look at what happens when a family is infiltrated by a malicious force. Now, 40 years later, the film needs to be celebrated for its brainstorming of how a family can be threatened by the growing influence of technology.

Besides, what does he do Poltergeist such a good ghost story is that it allows the audience to feel safe in a quiet neighborhood. Only then does he decide to take the carpet out of the courtesies of suburban life and expose it to what is really buried under the house.

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