Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Frighteners

(1996) ****

Michael J. Fox stars as Frank Bannister, a paranormal consultant that sees and interacts with ghosts (buddy picture below), a talent he attributes to his own near brushes with death. When an evil spirit is making the rounds offing people, Frank attempts to save those whose days are numbered (they are literally numbered on their foreheads), only in futility as the victims are claimed by the one whom he calls the Soul Collector.
Early on we are introduced to Lucy and Ray, a young mismatched couple who are new to the town and oblivious for its fatal reputation. FBI agent Milton Dammers has been called on to investigate the high death rate in the small town, but: (a) the autopsy reports make no sense given the impeccable health of the deceased, and (b) Frank seems to be connected to all of them! Without sufficient evidence or a warrant, he detains Frank and the Soul Collector continues his rampage.
Little explanation is given as to what ghosts are allowed or not allowed to do, or how the Soul Collector’s powers came to be. Despite these holes in continuity throughout the film, it got better with every new plot development and special effects are, well, effective despite looking dated.

I’ve got precious little patience for horror comedies that don’t find that delicate balance of humor and horror: the best example that comes to mind is Shaun of the Dead, while Peter Jackson’s 1992 splatter-fest Dead Alive missed the mark in my opinion. The Frighteners seemed to shape up rather quickly, abandoning the silliness altogether in its third act for a strong and satisfying finish.

7 comments:

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I can't believe how quickly you whipped up that thoughtful review. The credits just rolled like 10 minutes ago! Great observations, I agree with everything except that Dead Alive missed the mark.

Catfreeek said...

I echo what JSP said.

AC said...

This sounds right up my alley! In the queue.

Trevor said...

I loved this one in high school - definitely a favorite. And yes - a nice ominous tone despite the Ghostbusters-esque comedic elements.

JPX said...

Excellent review! I'm not really into horror comedy that much either however I recall that this film gets pretty dark and violent - good stuff!

DKC said...

I did the horror comedies so I'm adding this one. Excellent review!

DKC said...

*dig