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The Frighteners Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

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).

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Sort of lost in all the mayhem is Frank learning to put the past behind him and move beyond the tragedy in his life to a new relationship (it may be completely unintentional that the happiest couple onscreen are a couple of serial killers).

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Except for the selfless physician-heroine Lucy, nobody here is very admirable, with even Frank, the hero, a practicing con-artist at the outset. One of the ghosts is a comically stereotyped, big-afro black dude (he died in the 1970s). An FBI agent, constantly bragging that he represents the US government, is a clueless, dangerous jerk (though local cops are okay).

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Cartoonish/CGI-ish violence, as ghosts are dismembered, sliced, flattened, shot to pieces, sometimes twisted and mashed into oozing goo. Demonic elements assail and torture two characters. Many guns and pistols are brandished; flashbacks detail a bullet-riddled massacre in a hospital. One shotgun blast that takes a character's head off. People killed by induced heart attacks. Characters fall, get threatened with knives, and are beaten or strangled. Reckless driving stunts.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Double-entendres spoken by the ghosts, most particularly the rotting old Judge, who also goes through the motions of sex with a mummy.

  • language false2

    Language: "Ass," the s-word and its variations, "bastard," "bitch," "a-hole," "hell," "pissed-off," God's name in vain.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One ghost smokes cigars (well, he's dead already); drinking in a fancy-restaurant setting.