Box art for The Frighteners

The Frighteners

comedy, horror

Peter Jackson directs Michael J. Fox as a "ghost buster" who is in over his head in this special-effects-packed supernatural chiller that's so fiendishly entertaining, it's frightening!

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
2 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
5 out of 5

Violent, frenzied, foul-mouthed ghost comedy.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this horror-comedy includes over-the-top violence, with glowing ghosts (some in various stages of decomposition) dismembered, squished, slashed, mashed, and shot. Abundant gunfire includes a Columbine-style massacre, with multiple fatalities. One shotgun blast blows up a head off. Nightmarish visuals include zombie-like rotting-corpse ghosts and mummies and one closeup of a recently dead, worm-eaten face. Don't-try-this-at-home stuff ranges from reckless driving to drug-induced comas and falls from high places. Swearing is pretty constant. Off-color jokes refer obscurely to sex and hemorrhoids (not at the same time, at least).

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the popularity of ghost stories. Ask kids if they like them straight-up scary or funny.
  • The undead villain in this movie is obsessed with serial killers, dropping the names of several and aspiring to "score" higher body counts. Why are so many people fascinated by serial killers? Do the media glamorize them?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 18
    see all The Frighteners reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: An incredibly underrated scare-comedy from Peter Jackson that deserves a much wider audience.

- Blake Davis, KFOR Channel 4 News, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: Despite being awful in almost every respect, The Frighteners does offer one small pleasure: R. Lee Ermey parodying his Full Metal Jacket drill sergeant character.

- Chuck O'Leary, Fantastica Daily, Thursday, June 24, 2010


- Dragan Antulov,, Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Fun and creepy!!!

- jmanard52, Sunday, May 11, 2008

3 stars

Paranormal investigator Michael J. Fox had an accident that enables him to communicate with the dead, a skill he had been using to fleece the recently bereaved until he crosses paths with a ghostly serial killer who frames him for murder. One of Peter Jackson's early forays into Hollywood, The Frighteners is a horror comedy that blends his sense of the macabre with slapstick sight gags and wish fulfillment and as a result feels like a rather uneven homage to Tim Burton, and Beetlejuice in particular. A lot of the content is actually rather grim but the cartoonish elements involving his ghostly sidekicks almost enters Roger Rabbit territory making the film seem very shizophrenic; its a bit too horrific in places for young children and too silly for adults making it fall a little too much between two stools. The casting of Fox adds to this and it all feels like an attempt to jump on the Ghostbusters bandwagon but Jackson's influence makes the tone miss the "family entertainment" mark somewhat; in fact if he hadn't been trying so hard to break the US mainstream I think it could've been a much better film. It still definitely has its moments, the final showdown with the serial killers being a highlight and fans of TV series Supernatural which was clearly influenced by it should give it a try.

- garyX, Wednesday, October 20, 2010

4 stars

Death is a "you can count on forever" Boss! Death is the best way to make a living! You ll never die hungry.

- ScoopOnline, Sunday, December 13, 2009