Spoilers Ahead for The Frighteners and The Number 23.
The bad ‘films’ just keep on a-flowing...
The Frighteners: directed by Peter Jackson. Why have I never tracked this film down before now I asked myself, plumping up my lumpy sofa in readiness. After watching it, it all becomes too apparent. What an absolute bloody mess.
The central premise is brilliant – a psychic investigator scratches exorcising haunted houses. However, all is not what it seems: he’s in cahoots with a league of spooks doing the hauntings. But from that point on, it’s a downhill slalom all the way. The narrative lurches from one wild incoherency to the next in the space of three milliseconds. Logic is taken outside and given a good hiding. Everyone involved acts as if they are in the midst of some manic Chuck Jones cartoon, but I guess that’s just Peter Jackson’s ‘style’ (if you can call it that).
I am a firm believer (along with Stewart Home) that some things do not bear much critical attention – The Frighteners is one of them.
The Number 23: directed by Joel Schumacher (run for your lives!).
For some inexplicable reason, I was looking forward to this: don’t ask me why – perhaps someone slipped some hallucinogens into my sambuca (either that or I may be setting my expectations a little too high).
There are enough ideas here to fuel at least half dozen bad-to-middling straight-to-video films – however, combining these into one package does not make for a good movie. Jim Carrey (the comedy antichrist until Adam Sandler beamed down) plays Walter Sparrow, a man who becomes obsessed with the number 23 after his wife picks up a book, imaginatively titled The Number 23). The book’s narrative seems to uncannily mirror Sparrow’s own life. Hmmm – I’m intrigued.
What I should have done at this point was to pour the rest of my sambuca into the DVD player.
Sparrow starts to read from the book and off we’re off on an unintentionally hilarious parallel narrative that threatens to last forever. In order to prove that we’re in ‘adult’ territory, Jim gets to indulge in some massively comical sex scenes (which are about as erotic as a Haynes manual), which have obviously been filmed by a thirteen year old boy who thinks he knows what adult entertainment looks like (here’s a clue, Joel: it doesn’t look anything like The Number 23).
Think of something bad that screenwriters do, and it’s here in droves. Voiceover? A veritable landfill of it. Flashbacks? Saints preserve us. Co-incidence? A great big, fucking lazy one. What we have here ladies and gentlemen, is a Chip Smith patented Planks of Bullshit movie! Given that the script seems to have spent about twelve minutes in development, I’m not surprised.
I won’t insult your intelligence by revealing what the big surprise twist is – suffice to say the whole thing was another two hours of my life that I’m not going to get back (is there someone you can sue for this sort of thing?).