Peter Jackson, USA, 1996, 123 min.
There is energy behind The Frighteners. It’s the fun, gleeful energy brought by a director who grew up loving to make movies with his friends. And it’s an energy that is not diminished by the structure of Hollywood, due to producers who also have that same gleam in their eyes.
Michael J. Fox stars as a man with the power to see spirits, and makes friends with two of them so he can run a fraudulent paranormal investigation business. But he soon uncovers a spirit who is a real danger for all of the living in the town. The story is sufficiently complicated to deliver non-stop action, surprises, humor, and special effects.
It could have been a muddled mess, but all of this is deftly handled by Jackson. The special effects still look good and are a real accomplishment for the time. Jackson knows how to use them and how to integrate them with real footage, which most directors today don’t know how to do. The whole film is a lot of fun, with in-jokes and atmosphere and a genuinely exciting pace. It’s an over-looked gem of the genre and would make for great viewing this Halloween.