Grim reaper

The comic horror of The Frighteners eventually brings on the willies

Throughout his oeuvre, Jackson has demonstrated mastery in taking his audience to the darker recesses of the subconscious and stimulating them with sensory overload. He doesn't answer questions, he just poses them--bluntly, viscerally, taking them to outrageous extremes. That's why it eventually becomes necessary for him to break with Zemeckis' tidy, syllogistic style and reclaim The Frighteners as his own. You sense that he derives satisfaction simply in knowing he's stirred up some emotional mud beneath the veneer of societal norms. He's without a conscience in his desire to give us the willies at any cost. And it's that attitude that gives The Frighteners its fearsome creativity--and makes it disturbingly different from all of the other loud movies out there this summer.

The Frighteners. Universal. Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Jeffrey Combs. Written by Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson. Directed by Peter Jackson. Opens July 19.

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