The Frighteners (1996)

Rating: 15

Length: 1Hr 50

Release: 24.1.1997

About: 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).


  • Michael J Fox and Jeffery Combs are perfectly cast. Fox’s role is a little bittersweet knowing that it’s his last as a Hollywood leading man and a career cut way too short. It’s a character that allows Fox to show give a much more layered performance.
  • Combs looks like he’s having the best time playing the messed up FBI agent. There’s nothing I’ve seen where he doesn’t bring his a-game and this is no exception.
  • The feel of this film not only recalls Back to the Future, but Goonies, Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters as well. I went into the film knowing it was directed by Peter Jackson however it really does have the tone of a Zemeckis film.
  • I quite like the romantic sub plot of Frank and Lucy. Perhaps a little in bad taste, what with him still being at the table and all, but their chemistry works and her dead husband was a dick.
  • The cameo of R Lee Ermey as a loud and shouty sergeant Is a subtle stroke of genius. I haven’t seen Full Metal Jacket, but I’ve seen enough clips to get the reference. If it had been someone else doing it, it would have been a lovely nod. To get the original actor on board is awesome.


  • Not the fault of the film. It was an amazing task at the time, but there is slightly too much CGI for me. I love the construction of the etherial ghosts, but the form coming out of the wall and the apparition cloaked as Death seem to lack the same quality.
  • I did not like the ghost fucking the mummy! Just weird. I am also aware, however, I could watch this another time and the exact same scene could have me pissing myself laughing.
  • It’s about 20-30 minutes too long for me. Perhaps it’s because recently all the films I’ve watched have rarely passed the 1 hr 30 mark, but I don’t think anything is gained with the added half an hour.

Final Thoughts

A film that is better than its box office suggests and a perfect watch for Halloween. It’s also a must see for fans of Jackson’s follow up films that relied heavily on the technical achievements from this movie.

2 thoughts on “The Frighteners (1996)”

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