The Frighteners

Rating 4

Directed by Peter Jackson

Written by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh

Starring Michael J Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Chi McBride, Jeffrey Combs, Troy Evans, R Lee Ermey, Dee Wallace and Jake Busey

Frank Bannister (Michael J Fox) is a down and out architect who describes himself as a psychic private detective and claims to rid his clients of unwanted ghosts and poltergeist. What he does is a scam, although he genuinely can see the spirits of the dead. When a Grim Reaper-like creature begins to kill in the small town where he lives, Frank is accused of the murders. He is aided in his attempts to stop the killings and prove his innocence by Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado), and has to finally confront the truth about the death of his wife several years earlier.

This black comedy horror was co-written and directed by Peter Jackson (‘Lord Of The Rings’, ‘King Kong’). It was his first Hollywood film and came two years after the acclaimed ‘Heavenly Creatures’. It was the last film to feature Michael J Fox in a lead role (not counting his featured role in ‘Mars Attacks!’) before the public announcement that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The film was rated “R” in America, meaning that it lost a large percentage of its intended audience, and it failed to repeat the box office success of ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Beetlejuice’, the two films that it most obviously resembles. Reviews were mixed, although mostly positive.

I saw this film a couple of times several years ago and I really liked it. Watching it again now, after such a long gap, I still enjoyed it very much. I am not a fan of over-the-top special effects, something that Jackson has a tendency to overdose on, but they are largely kept under control here. The mix of horror and comedy is just right, and the film takes quite a dark turn in its second half. The cast is excellent. Michael J Fox was one of the most personable leading actors of his time and he is on top form here. I would be interested to learn why the career of Trini Alvarado became somewhat becalmed after this film.

The film has established quite a cult reputation in the years since it was first released – and rightly so. I think it's excellent and I highly recommend it.

No comments: