Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Frighteners

I can't even call what I'm writing a review. It's pure, unabashed love. I can't be objective and talk about strengths versus weaknesses or first impressions, and I'm not going to rehash the plot. Instead, I am going to succumb to a gushing letter of praise to one of my favorite movies ever: THE FRIGHTENERS.

To be fair, I have a lot of favorite movies. I don't know where it fits in. And I always seem to forget how good it is until it occurs to me to watch it again.

THE FRIGHTENERS is one of those horror-comedy crossovers, sort of like a GHOSTBUSTERS or GREMLINS. The laughs aren't so much jokes, but the inherent absurdity of ghosts existing, and what it's like for someone like Frank Bannister to be able to interact with them. The comedy is incidental though, because the film has an important story and message to get across by the end.

Obviously, THE FRIGHTENERS being directed by Peter Jackson is a huge part of why it's so good: the way it looks, the action of the camera, the things he catches in his actors. And this is one of the few films in existence in which the CGI does not detract from the film. It's not out of place, it looks right at home. It's how the film is intended to look, a little glossed over and slightly removed from reality.

The cast is simply amazing. Michael J. Fox is perfect, Jake Busey is a fantastic villain, John Astin (from the Addams Family) is hilarious as The Judge, never mind horror veterans Jeffrey Combs and Dee Wallace.

I love how even though this movie is full of ghosts and the supernatural, that ultimately it's about good people versus bad people. Bannister is a good person who's conflicted and feels guilty, Dammers is a bad person who thinks he's doing good, Patricia and Bradley are terrible people who are terrible spirits, whereas ghosts Stuart, Cyrus, etc. are good people who are only trying to help someone they see as a friend. THE FRIGHTENERS suggests that evil is something deep down, in a person's soul, and that real goodness and sacrifice will be rewarded in the end. For all the paranormal activity happening, it's really about what's at the heart of a person, whether they're a flawed hero or an insane serial killer.

The film has really strong female characters, too-- Patricia acts innocent, but is in reality very much in control of herself and her actions. She isn't simply swayed by the man she associates with, she's completely active in her participation of these murders. Then there's Lucy, who has suffered in an unhappy marriage, but stays firm in her beliefs about other people, her faith in them, no matter what others tell her. She has the strength to fight back when pressed up against a wall by some other force.

I'm sure it's not for everyone, and there might be critics who don't find THE FRIGHTENERS as enjoyable or compelling as I do, but I'm going to continue to ignore them and be happily in love with it.

The Frighteners via Netflix
The Frighteners via IMDB
Fuck Yeah The Frighteners Tumblr
The Frighteners via Rotten Tomatoes


  1. You're the second blogger I've read who's had so many good things to say about the Frighteners. Guess I've really got to see it.

  2. There are some critics who REALLY didn't like it, so maybe it's not for everyone? I certainly don't think my taste in film is somehow superior to others, so this could just be a niche, cult thing. That or my nostalgia and love of ghost stories is giving me rose-colored vision. But hey, I encourage anyone to see it if they haven't yet!

    1. Bah, says I. Critics be damned. It sounds like my kinda thing. Great review.