Following the father's job layoff, the Bowen family, including their three children, move in to what turns out to be (unbeknownst to them until it is too late to do anything about it) the haunted house from hell. From the moment this family sets foot in the new house, it's clear that things are not right with the house. The youngest Bowen child, Madison, is talking to 'imaginary friends' that you know are not imaginary friends, and the closet doors in her room stick and refuse to open. Hair raising static electricity is prevalent at different spots in the house, and soon physical manifestations become terrifyingly common place throughout the house.
Then one fateful night the poltergeist pounces when the parents attend a party and leave the two younger children in the care of the eldest child, Kendra. Kendra gets sucked up to her knees in a quicksand-like mud pit that suddenly bubbles up from the laundry room floor and while she struggles to free herself, the ancient tree in the backyard breaks through the skylight in the roof, reaches through the house, and grabs the middle child, Griffin. This leaves Madison vulnerable in her room where the closet doors have been flung open, and the poltergeist lures her into the closet where it pulls her through the portal to the other dimension.
The parents arrive home to find their two oldest children terrified and Madison missing. Subsequently they don't know who to turn to, but they know they can't go to the police. Instead they turn to the chairwoman of the paranormal studies department at the local university who in turn calls some guy who hosts a haunted house reality show for reinforcement. Why is the Bowen house ground zero for a malevolent poltergeist? What is the poltergeist's endgame? And will they be able to free Madison from the other dimension?
While there were some details that bothered me (see my random thoughts below), overall I enjoyed this movie. It was creepy, there were some scares, and it didn't have a bleak non-ending like some other movies in this genre do. What worked well, I thought, were the injections of humor throughout the movie rather than straight up wall to wall scares. If you're a fan of supernatural horror movies, you'll enjoy this movie.
Random thoughts and questions I have:
If your kid digs up a bone in the front yard, maybe you should investigate it a little bit instead of nonchalantly telling him to put it back in the ground--you don't know if it's an animal bone or a human bone! If it's a human bone, it needs to be reported!
The paranormal studies department's male assistant is screaming while the poltergeist is 'playing' with him, and no one hears his screams and comes upstairs to find out what's wrong?
Griffin is kept dangling by his feet by the malevolent tree--screaming in the middle of the night and none of the neighbors come out to see what the hell is going on?
The Bowen house goes bat shit crazy and implodes and still no neighbors come out in the street to found out what the hell is going on?
Where are the neighbors?!
The most unrealistic thing in this movie is that no one comes to investigate or help when other people are screaming when the poltergeist attacks them. Yes, I said it. That is the most unrealistic thing to me in this movie. See also above re: neighbors.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie