Movie Review: The Frighteners (1996)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1996 thriller/comedy starring Michael J. Fox.

Synopsis: Following a car accident that left his wife dead, architect Frank Bannister is given the ability to see and talk to ghosts. Depressed over her loss, he gives up his career and, with the help of three ghost friends, performs fake exorcisms. Shortly after being exposed as a conman, Frank becomes the primary suspect when people start dying under mysterious circumstances. With the police and an overzealous FBI agent on his trail, he must stop the supernatural entity responsible for the deaths before it kills again.


I came across this movie a few nights ago shortly after watching another film with my wife. I had seen this movie before but realized I didn’t remember much about it. So, I ended up recording it and watching it while home at lunch the past couple of days. While the movie isn’t quite as good as I was expecting it to be, it was still pretty decent.

One thing I like about this movie is the way Frank Bannister (Fox) is written. He really can’t be described as a good guy because he has no problem conning people out of money. But, at the same time, he’s still likable and does know when to be a hero. The fact he does have such a tragic back story is also somewhat intriguing, especially when the movie elaborates about his wife’s (Angela Bloomfield) death and it’s obvious it was somehow linked to the other deaths.

I also found I liked all the little twists and turns Bannister had to overcome while trying to clear his name and protect a former client/love interest, Lucy (Alvarado). In addition to an evil spirit, he has a half-crazed FBI agent (Combs) chasing after him, an unexpected accomplice and even an ex-Marine sergeant (Ermey) working against him.

My only real complaint about this movie is it is kind of predictable. As I mentioned, I didn’t remember much about the film when I started watching it and, even without remembering it, I was able to figure out who the cloaked supernatural figure was and was even able to guess at who his accomplice was. This is because the movie gives way too many obvious clues about who the killer is. It would have been much better if there would have been a bit more of a mystery or at least an attempt to throw the viewer off.

The Frighteners - 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]

From Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Lord of the Rings) comes this wicked comedy-thriller. Michael J. Fox stars as Frank Bannister, a small-town "gh...

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

Overall, I did find I liked this movie. It could have been a bit better, especially when it came to keeping the bad guy a secret. However, I thought it was a good performance by Fox and was still entertained by it. If you haven’t seen the movie before, I would recommend it.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 09/04/2015, StevenHelmer
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