The Frighteners (1996)

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The Frighteners: Directed by Peter Jackson. With Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin. After a tragic car accident that kills his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people. However, when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead.

“In a small quiet coastal town of Fairwater, residents are dying in very strange circumstances and Frank Banister makes a living by scamming people of Fairwater with his psychic abilities to rid poltergeists out of their homes. Which, unknowingly for the occupants the trio of spirits that are causing the havoc happen to be part of Franku0026#39;s scam. Frank manages to communicate and see the dead because of a scarring trauma he had. While, his set-up might be going to plan, the strange deaths keep on rising and Frank starts seeing numbers engraved on peoplesu0026#39; foreheads and one night he encounters a malevolent spirit shaped as the grim reaper whou0026#39;s performing these killings. The town believes Frank has something to do with the murders and a FBI agent is brought on the case and tries at every opportunity to pin the deaths on Frank.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWell, Peter Jackson has made a name for himself with his last four blockbusters, but just before those epic films he made this odd ,comedy-horror caper that was aimed for a mainstream audience, but it sadly went by unnoticed, because it just didnu0026#39;t appeal to everyoneu0026#39;s tastes. Iu0026#39;ve seen it a couple of times and I donu0026#39;t mind it, even if the filmu0026#39;s all over the shop. The distinctively, novel film is brimming with creative images, oddball bunch of characters, masterfully constructed CGI effects, deliciously, quirky black humour and spontaneous jolts. So, whats not like! u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWell, despite these great aspects the film feels overly convoluted with many ideas and back-stories that makes the tone shift back and forth in such a unsteady rate. You just donu0026#39;t know what it really wants to be and it just feels like the film feels the same way too. The comical humour and ghoulish horror doesnu0026#39;t always gel, with the first half of the flick being more humorous, then suddenly it shifts gear with the second half going for some fast-paced thrills and shocks, but here Jackson never manages connect the two that successfully. Thatu0026#39;s not to say I didnu0026#39;t find it amusing, because it is. Its an entertaining caper and an ingenious thought, but it throws around so many paths the film couldu0026#39;ve taken instead of just fleshing one out and going for it. The meaty script is an complete muddle with many scenarios that only scratch the top of the surface and it seems to just go on for too long. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhile, the material might have been incoherent, itu0026#39;s Jacksonu0026#39;s sharp visual eye that screams at you with the filmu0026#39;s stark, Gothic fairytale style. Jackson always makes great use of the scenery and here is no exception with a murky colour palette that has a tonne of atmosphere about it. The twitchy camera-work is always on the move and Danny Elfmanu0026#39;s score beats out a spaced out vibe that goes highly strung when the pace picks up. Jackson succeeds in creating around these kinetic aspects, slices of unexpected turns, pumping action and firmly, constructed suspense. But the filmu0026#39;s big show stopper is the FX bonanza with itu0026#39;s extravagantly slick effects that shows Jackson demonstrates supreme control in his vision. The glaring getup of the Grim Reaper is the most artistic and forcible of the lot. Though, if youu0026#39;re looking for some gross-out, make-up effects thereu0026#39;s none of that to be found and thatu0026#39;s the same for any kind of campy nature. This project does seem more colder and distant than that of his previous efforts with the humour side of the things feeding more off the black misery than the goofiness. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe film has a great cast on show with Michael J Fox who fits well as the sympathetic lead Frank. Trini Alvarado as Dr. Lucy Lynskey is good too. Dee Wallace Stone is great as the on edge Patricia. Jake Busey is equally good as her evil-minded boyfriend whou0026#39;s back from the grave committing murders. Chi McBride, John Astin and Jim Fyfe play the ghosts that teamed up with Frank and they add to the humour and so does Peter Dobson as the self-assured Ray. But when in frame its Jeffery Combs who steals the show as the eccentric FBI agent Dammers, whou0026#39;s one real nut! Also thereu0026#39;s a amusing cameo from R.Lee Ermey mimicking his performance from u0026quot;Full Metal Jacketu0026quot; as a Sgt. Hiles a spirit of a graveyard.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eA flawed, but enjoyably agreeable dark comedy-supernatural flick.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003ep.s. This review is on the theatrical release.”


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