Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Film Review: THE FRIGHTENERS (1996)

TheFrighteners_poster Co-Writer/Director: Peter Jackson
Running time: 110 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Horror
UK Release date: 24th January 1997

Watched on Sky+ Monday 27th June 2011.


I hadn’t heard of this film before I got more involved in reading and writing about films. I became interested in the work that Peter Jackson did before he embarked on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ epic trilogy. So, when I can, I’m slowly going through his back catalogue. This is quite an interesting film with some nice ideas and some really great effects (for its day) but it does suffer from a slightly over-complicated plot and being a little too long. But more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first.

the_frighteners_3 Frank Bannister makes a living as a Psychic Investigator. After an accident five years ago, he can see and speak to ghosts. One of his clients is Ray Lynskey, who he had had a run-in with recently. Just before he leaves, after removing some troublesome spirits, he notices a mystical number on Ray’s forehead but thinks nothing of it. The next day Ray is dead. His wife, Dr. Lucy Lynskey, asks Frank to communicate with Ray and from this they form a friendship. More people die and it begins to look like Frank is the culprit, but he claims he’s innocent. The FBI even get involved in the shape of, the very strange, Milton Dammers. Eventually Frank and Lucy link it back to a serial killer, Johnny Charles Bartlett, who went to the electric chair many years before. Will Frank be able to stop Bartlett before he claims Lucy as his next victim? Well, you can probably guess, but you didn’t hear it from me right.

300full As I said at the beginning, this film does suffer from a rather over-complicated plot. The first-rate special effects go some way to making up for this, but not quite. Having said that, it’s still quite watchable with some decent performances; chiefly from Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister and Trini Alvarado as Dr. Lucy Lynskey. Also worthy of note are Peter Dobson as Ray Lynskey, John Astin as The Judge, Jeffrey Combs, who was really off the wall, as Milton Dammers,  Dee Wallace as Patricia Ann Bradley and Jake Busey as Johnny Charles Bartlett. Oh, and worthy of a special mention, it was nice to see a small cameo from R. Lee Ermey as Sgt, Hiles.

2411 I must admit I did quite enjoy this film, there were many sight gags that I found amusing and the musical score was pretty good too. A very well made film with some decent cinematography and, as I’ve already mentioned, some excellent effects, both CGI and animatronic. It does suffer though from the very complicated plot and it does seem to drag a bit towards the end, probably because it’s too long. Having said that though, it’s worth a viewing for some very interesting ideas that you might recognise from Jackson’s later works… Recommended.

My Score: 7.1/10

the-frighteners-poster LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0116365/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/frighteners/


Tom_Film_Master said...

Great Review!

Ian Montgomery said...

Kinda funny how they used the music score from Casper for the trailer.