Every bit as silly as its title would suggest, “Poltergay” offers sporadic laughs and plenty of groans, though not the kind uttered by specters in sheets rattling chains. Sing-along Boney M is more like it, with the ghosts themselves in full disco mode, each night repeating their playful last moments in a house that formerly hosted a gay dance club, ca. 1979. Cutesy idea, from helmer/co-scripter Eric Lavaine, caught on during opening weeks in France in October, though biz wasn’t sustainable and only gay fests will find auds tolerant enough of the outrageous campiness.
An old abandoned house is an ideal fixer-upper for young couple Marc (Clovis Cornillac) and Emma (Julie Depardieu, obviously enjoying a bit of fun). Problem is, Marc can’t sleep with all the pounding disco music coming from downstairs — though Emma can’t hear a thing.
On investigation, Marc discovers a group of flamingly mischievous poltergeists in the cellar. However, Emma thinks he’s gone nuts and becomes increasingly suspicious of his rantings about men looking at his naked butt.
Even a shrink (Hector Cabello Reyes, Lavaine’s co-scribe) tells him he’s suppressing homosexual desires, but things look clearer once a parapsychologist (Michel Duchaussoy) is called in and he, too, sees the mincing apparitions. Turns out the nocturnal revelers, killed in a freak explosion, are trapped by four magic stones embedded in the house by the Templars. (Why is it always the Templars?)
Cornillac and Depardieu disport themselves with tongue-in-cheek relish, but the gags aren’t clever enough and most of the camp material dates from way before the Village People entered the scene. Premise harks back to Abbott and Costello’s “The Time of Their Lives,” though that pic was decidedly stronger on charm. Still, a few genuine chuckles keep things moving.
Visuals are bright and lively without being original. Disco music keeps things bouncing along, and Depardieu’s terrific slowed-down cover of “Born to Be Alive” deserves wide airplay.