Post Sixth Sense, Hollywood has given the supernatural thriller a new lease of life, with Gregory Hoblit's follow-up to Fallen joining the recent likes of Stir Of Echoes and Final Destination. However, Frequency is far less sinister than these other ventures into filmic phantasmagoria, with its blend of male-bonding weepery, time-travel, sci-fi and serial-killer thriller making for a peculiar but effective alchemy. Yet there is still something comfortingly old-fashioned about this story of the triumph of the all-American patriarchal society over evil.
It's one of those grand old efforts; not entirely reliant on special effects, big bangs or stunts, but rather on script and story - - yeah, okay, it's like a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Writer/producer Toby Emmerich provides a sophisticated and sporadically spooky script, taking us into an everchanging realm of uncertainty, although this doesn't come into its own until the second half, when Hoblit picks up the pace, diving into an underworld of paranormal peril and masked menace. Gone is the slightly patchy nature of the first hour as the serial-murder plotline firmly drives the story forward and the darkening tone imbues every frame with a feeling of lingering doom.
Thankfully, Dennis Quaid brings an unassuming charm and presence to the role of daredevil firefighter and American superdad Frank Sullivan, while The Thin Red Line's Jim Caviezel gives a suitably restrained performance, establishing an unlikely over-the-radio rapport with Quaid.
It's just a shame that the conclusion has to be so exasperatingly saccharine and, indeed, the piece as a whole cannot stop itself from laying on thick the ""I love you, dad"" sentimentality in its treatment of the father-son bond. However, Frequency still engrosses and entertains, and is surprisingly rich with interesting ideas and visual flair.
Despite - or perhaps because of - its weirdy premise, Frequency crackles with energy, ideas and thrills. And, though it has moments of extravagant cheesiness, it manages to remain highly enjoyable in a surprisingly old-fashioned Hollywood way.