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The Frighteners


Roger Davidson

Frighteners, The
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Yet another one of the special effects laden films this summer. Apparently, there are still filmakers out there who believe bigger is better. This banal black comedy stars Michael J. Fox as a freelance "exorcist", who claims to be a master psychic and ghostbuster. However, he's actually a con-artist, who is in cahoots with the ghosts he's supposed to be exorcising. He lives in a small town, where mysterious murders are taking place, which are being caused by "The Soul Collector" (a.k.a., the Grim Reaper). Fox is forced to confront the demon, when people he cares about become the collector's targets.

This recent big-budget bonanza, from acclaimed independent director Peter Jackson (Dead Alive), has been highly overrated by the critics. There are so many things wrong with this movie, this review is in danger of becoming a list. I'll narrow it down to three major things.

  1. The movie is full of weird and bizarre characters, that are neither likable nor entertaining. Who the hell was that FBI agent anyway? He seemed like an annoying cross between Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey.
  2. The editing is totally erratic. It's like they decided to just slap scenes together from other various films, making the story confusing at times.
  3. The story! It seems that the filmakers couldn't decide whether this is a black comedy, disguised as a horror film (like Evil Dead 2), or a full-blown gross-out fright fest. Plus, there are plot holes large enough to fly a 747 through. It's an extremely uncomfortable effort to watch this film all the way through. Fox at least tries to do a good job, compared to all the other actors, whose job, it seems, is to run around screaming from things and outrageously overacting! The special effects are good, but again, big-budget special effects does not a great movie make.

This only proves a theory of mine. For most independent film directors, it seems, their early small-budget efforts are usually a lot more entertaining and interesting, than any of their high-budget mainstream pictures. If you don't believe me, take a look at Jackson's earlier efforts (Dead Alive and Heavenly Creatures). Then, take a look at this. You'll see what I mean.

My Rating = Two Stars

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