Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 203: The Frighteners

Long before the Hobbits were a twinkle in Peter Jackson's eye, he set out to revive the career of Michael J Fox by making a horror/comedy/action movie that exists outside of easy categorization.

The movie centers on Frank Bannister (Fox), who gains the ability to talk to the dead after losing his wife in a car crash. He employs three ghosts to haunt locals' homes and then charges the locals to "exorcise" the ghosts. It is a decent scam until someone gets a real, evil ghost in their house that Frank can't scare away. On top of this, a government specialist in the occult is brought in to investigate a new crop of deaths in town and the specialist has it in for Frank (the specialist is played by Jeffrey Combs in all his greasy glory). Can Frank stop the returned serial killer? Will any of his ghost buddies survive? Or "survive"?

The color palette is a little dour in this movie but the spirit is lighthearted until things turn deadly. Frank's scam and his romance with a recent widow are pretty entertaining to watch. When bodies start dropping, Jackson uses the world he's built to create a set of rules for action set pieces that push the bounds of what CGI could do at the time. Jake Busey is delightfully unhinged as the killer who has returned to finish his work. Combs is over-the-top in the best way. Fox centers it all with his likable charm.

If you haven't seen it and don't mind sudden tonal shifts, you should definitely check out The Frighteners.

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