The Frighteners

Film, Horror

Time Out says

Jackson's follow-up to Heavenly Creatures is an sfx-heavy scarefest that looks at first like a return to the slapstick horror-comedy of Braindead. Later, however, it flips into a grim, disturbing horror movie about the malevolent spirit of a serial killer back from the grave to increase his body count. Fake para-psychologist Frank Bannister (Fox) is in cahoots with a trio of tortured souls - hip dude Cyrus (McBride), creaky-boned old-timer The Judge (Astin), and nerdy bookworm Stuart (Fyfe): they scare the shit out of Fairwater's inhabitants while Frank cleans up the mess. A series of unexplained deaths heralds the arrival of a Grim Reaper-like spirit that Frank alone can see. This may be connected to a thrill-kill case in which Patricia Bradley (Stone), now a middle-aged, mother-dominated recluse, and her hospital orderly boyfriend Johnny Bartlett (Busey) massacred a dozen patients and hospital staff. Though funded by Hollywood, this New Zealand-shot movie was creatively controlled by Jackson and co-writer Fran Walsh. So while the on-screen violence is toned down, there's no soft-pedalling the ugliness of mass murder or the obscenity of ill-deserved media celebrity. At times the relentless special effects and tangled plotting veer towards visual and narrative overkill, but the final tonal swerve is shocking and effective.


Release details

110 mins

Cast and crew

Peter Jackson
Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Michael J Fox
Trini Alvarado
Peter Dobson
John Astin
Jeffrey Combs
Chi McBride
Jim Fyfe
Jake Busey
Dee Wallace Stone
R Lee Ermey
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