The Frighteners (1996)

Movie Title: The Frighteners

Year Released: 1996

Rated: R

Runtime: 2h 3min

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Dee Wallace Stone, Jeffrey Combs, Jake Busey

Review: Once an architect, Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) now passes himself off as an exorcist of evil spirits. To bolster his facade, he claims his "special" gift is the result of a car accident that killed his wife. But what he does not count on is more people dying in the small town where he lives. As he tries to piece together the supernatural mystery of these killings, he falls in love with the wife (Trini Alvarado) of one of the victims and deals with a crazy FBI agent (Jeffrey Combs). I love this movie for a multitude of reasons, but what I really enjoyed about The Frighteners was the way that Peter Jackson was able to seamlessly shift the tone of this movie as the story unfolds. Michael J. Fox does a fantastic job playing our quirky lead who initially comes across as a silly con man with an equally silly group of ghost buddies. Despite some of the funnier absurd moments early on, this movie really kicks into gear as our main leads start investigating a series of mysterious deaths. Jeffrey Combs is great as the insane, nationalist FBI agent who is both creepy and ultimately a nuisance to the investigation. The film shifts to an even darker tone towards the end when the harsh, wicked motives for the deaths are finally revealed. All of this culminates with an action-packed, suspenseful ending, which is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The Frighteners is a well-balanced, fun, yet intense movie that has a little bit of everything to keep all levels of horror fans interested. I cannot recommend this enough, and I'm glad I was able to get a chance to view this film. It will definitely enter my rotation of classics each Halloween season!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: It was during filming this on-location in New Zealand, that Michael J. Fox made up his mind that he'd had enough of being away from his family making movies, and decided to head back to the small screen and star in a new sitcom (Spin City (1996)). This turned out to be his last leading role in a film.


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