The Frighteners

"No Rest for the Wicked."

One of Peter Jackson's earlier films, The Frighteners is a horror-comedy about a man who misuses his psychic powers. Michael J. Fox plays an exorcist named Frank Bannister, a failed architect who became bitter and heartbroken after the loss of his wife. The accident that took her life left him with the power to see and speak to the recently dead, and to the handful of ghosts who are unable to cross over to the other side. Those ghosts are his livelihood.

Frank has three main ghost buddies, a cowboy judge, a 70s gangster, and a classic nerd. They will, at Frank's request, haunt the houses of prospective customers. The horrified occupants pay Frank to exorcise the spirits, which he does, as a sort of supernatural protection racket. Frank has developed a reputation as a ghoulish conman who preys on the bereaved, of whom there are plenty, since the small town of Fairwater, is going through its second wave of mysterious murders in 30 years.

Because he can communicate with the spirits of the murder victims, Frank has unique insights into the murders, but this puts him under suspicion. When a troubled FBI expert on cults (played by Jeffrey Combs) decides that Frank is to blame for the murders, he is forced to take drastic action. With the aid of former client Dr. Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado), Frank prepares to undergo a near death experience that will allow him to confront the killer calling himself The Grim Reaper.

The Frighteners used groundbreaking special effects, including an early example of computer generated image technology, and at the time of its release was considered very impressive in this regard. The famous scene in which ghosts deform the wallpaper into horrible shapes by sliding along beneath it is as terrifying as ever, and it remains a visually beautiful film with a great deal of action, comedy, and scares.

R
| 1997 | | 7.1/10
The Frighteners
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