Ah, the French, the French. Somehow they’ve attracted a reputation over the years for being somewhat humourless but, having seen a couple of corking French horror-comedies recently, I now beg to differ. One of these examples, Les Dents de la Nuit (2008) is a vampire story with a genuine sense of self-awareness and fun; likewise Poltergay (tagline: ‘They’re Queer!’) manages to send itself up along similar lines.
This is on many levels a standard ‘haunted house’ film: a young couple moves into a dilapidated house; one member of the couple begins to see and hear things whilst the other sees and hears nothing; doubts about sanity are duly experienced. Thing is, for Marc (Clovis Cornillac) and Emma (Julie Depardieu) their house happens to have once been a gay discotheque. Ergo it is now haunted by a group of men who died in the ’70s in a tragic foam party accident, and it’s still time to party like it’s 1979! Marc awakes, night after night, to the ghostly strains of ‘Rasputin’. When he loses his cool and threatens the men, they just tell him to lighten up and dance. He chases them – they disappear through walls. He tries to attack them – he accidentally hits his just-arrived father-in-law in the head with a shovel…
Emma justifiably starts to worry about this behaviour – and her husband’s continual chatter about gay men in the basement leads everyone, Marc included, to have doubts about his sexuality (leading to some of the funniest ‘soul searching’ scenes ever!) However, when Emma packs up and leaves, the live straight man and the dead gay men call a truce; they never meant to ruin Marc’s life, and all they want is to move on – so, they agree to help each other.
This is a very lighthearted film and though it leans heavily on daft stereotypes it never does so in a vicious way. All the characters are lightly-drawn but likeable, and very enjoyable to watch. A slightly slow start leads to a zany, often physical comedy and, because of its easy pace and characterisation, it even manages a few moments of pathos in amongst all the madness too. Definitely worth a watch and just right for a group view, preferably with beer, in this writer’s humble opinion.