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Headscratchers: The Frighteners
  • Where the heck did Johnny Bartlet get a scythe like that? Who made it? Heck, if he has a scythe that can force ghosts to move on, why doesn't Hiles have one? If its one of a kind, where did he get it?
    • I always assumed he managed to swipe it from Death/The Grim Reaper when he 'got out' of Hell, since it seems to be a major source of his power.
      • So not only was Bartlett, one single scrawny psycho, able to overpower death itself, bu the reaper didn't want it back?
      • You assume that he forced Hell to let him go. From his phrase "I got out, carrying on the good work!", the implication I took was that Bartlet was evil enough that he made a deal with Satan to go back to Earth and reap souls. Probably only good for one offer, though, since after that he'd proven ineffective.
    • It's easiest to assume that Bartlett's 'Grim Reaper' appearance works in exactly the same fashion as the Sergeant's incredibly improbable arsenal - Certain ghosts seem able to harm each other, like the Judge's pistols and Frank when he takes up the Sergeant's weapons. So I'm of the impression that the scythe works in much the same fashion. Either ghosts have items relevant to what they were like in real life, or they can generate them.
  • How did Bartlett escape hell? "I got out". So you just "got out"? So whats to stop him "getting out" again, now he and his girlfriend are in hell? Or telling the other denizens of hell how to get out?
    • If the thing about his girlfriend contacting him was the explanation, that just makes less sense. You're telling me not one bad person in history ever had someone try to bring them back from the other side?
    • There was a riot in the yard and he slipped away in the confusion.
      • How do you riot in hell?
      • Very carefully
      • Who's to say that Bartlett was the only guy who was summoned from Hell by someone else? Apparently all that's needed to get an evil dead person back into Hell is to trick them into going into the light. It's entirely possible that other people have occasionally escaped and just were recaptured.
    • I was under the impression it was something to do with the fact Patricia still has his ashes. Either that, or Bartlett's an Unreliable Narrator and never actually went to Hell.
      • Maybe he was actually an ordinary ghost for a while, and he thought of it as Hell because he could see vulnerable people yet was powerless to attack them. Then he got hold of the scythe, and suddenly he's back in the murder business: his "Hell" of impotency as a psycho was over.
  • Why was Johny's "score" so low? He killed 28 people over 7 years or so. But 4 of those were in a week. And 2 in a night. If he wanted, he could have beaten every serial killer in history in a month, wiping out a whole town. And then move on to another town. There was absolutely nothing that could stop him. Why pace himself?
    • Tying in to the Scythe theory above, it's possible that he wasn't able to kill anyone until after he got it. Or maybe he was just taking his time and having fun with it, only speeding up because of Frank's interference.
      • The deaths hadn't been happening all at once, they'd been happening steadily over the 7 years. That's why they said 28 deaths in 7 years, not one month. As for "taking his time", this is the same indiscriminately killing psychopath we saw at the beginning. He doesn't have a criteria, its all random, so again, what does he gain by waiting?
    • Fridge Brilliance: Serial killers often start out slowly and accelerate their killings in frequency as they go. He was just following this pattern even in death.
    • It wasn't just Johnny's score, it was Johnny and Patricia's score. It's been awhile since I watched the movie, but if I'm not mistaken, in a flashback it's Patricia who kills Frank's wife and Johnny looks like just a ghost not Grim Reaper. If so, then it's probably Patricia who had continued the bodycount until Johnny got his hands on the Sytche.
  • If passing on is a choice, why would anyone ever choose to go to hell? And why did Johnny even go to hell to begin with? Or any other serial killer for that matter? Johnny was the first person to figure this out?
    • And it isn't impossible for evil people to just refuse to go to hell, Dammers is still there at the end.
    • Well, the rarity of the scythe isn't told, but we can see that it does have the ability to force ghosts to pass on, presumably to wherever they ought to go. So if they choose to not pass on then they're stuck in a limbo-like state on Earth with the threat of being simply forced to move on looming over their heads.
  • Why did Patricia still put up with her mother, instead of just killing her and going on the run with Johny? Why did she choose to kill her mother only when Bartlett had been discovered?
    • Before that, Patricia was trying to trick everyone into thinking she was a good girl who was unjustly persecuted. You can see throughout the movie how she tries to play Lucy like that. It's possible that she was biding her time, hoping that she could manage to get someone to just let her out of her house arrest so she could go elsewhere to continue killing. If she killed her mother and ran for it, people would be on the lookout for her. Her chances of being rearrested would probably be higher than if she was let out and legally traveled to another country before starting over as a killer. As for why she killed her mother when Bartlett was discovered, the jig was pretty much up. She knew that people had figured out that it was really her boyfriend's ashes she had, which would strongly suggest that she was still in cahoots with them. Given that she seemed pretty Axe Crazy, her thought process was probably "Well, my plan to trick everyone is scotched. Better just kill everyone who knows too much and run for it anyway".
    • It's mentioned in passing that Patricia's mother has been keeping her sedated. Probably she missed a dose to keep her daughter from acting on her homicidal desires
  • What the hell does Dammers believe? He believes in psychic powers but not ghosts, despite that world having no proof for psychics and huge amounts of proof for ghosts?
    • He's a cuckoo. I'm not a crazy person, so I can't explain his weird behavior.
      • It's heavily implied that he was put through severe amounts of torturous initiation ceremonies while working undercover. He probably has a heavy belief in mind over matter, considering he probably had to utilize quite a bit of that to get through the ceremonies and infiltrate the cults.
  • Does psychological evaluation just not exist in this world? The obviously insane and brittle Dammers is given not only a handgun, but a fucking Uzi? "Hey, you know that deranged psycho who's been tortured many times in his life and keeps muttering to himself about purging the world? He's the perfect operative for this series of bizarre deaths in a small town" "Of course, but he might need some heavy firepower in a rural town were the only suspect is a small alcoholic. So lets outfit him with an Uzi. This is sure to end in good things"
    • He's probably earned a lot of favors and influence by taking the crap jobs he does. Too, they may keep him on because for whatever reason they can't fire him (maybe because "Hey, we know you got yourself tortured to the edge of sanity for us, but you're kind of kooky now so GTFO" is too much even for the FBI), so they just try to send him off on wild goose chases. He does say "I get all the really... fruity... assignments." They may just hope that he'll poke around and annoy people, and that's probably all he usually does. Just that in this case, there really was weird stuff going on and it slackened his last slight grip on sanity.
    • The FBI has never issued its people Uzis, although the Secret Service did for a while. Dammers probably bought his weapon himself, or possibly confiscated it off-the-books from one of the cults he'd infiltrated.
  • Why didn't Dammers shoot Patricia? He had the gun already raised, pointing straight at her, yet he just looks at her funny and waits to have his head blown off?
    • Because A: she had a gun too. And B: He was suprised, and in those seconds it gave her time to shoot him. Remember he was chasing Frank and planned to shoot him, not knowing and not wanting to know there was another killer, so when he saw her with a gun, in his last moments he knew that Frank wasn't the killer. Plus he's an obsessed maniac.
  • Why do Cyrus, Stuart and the Judge listen to Frank if he just abuses their friendship?
    • He's the only one around who can see them. Abusive or not, he's the only person who even acknowledges that they exist.
    • Every other ghost acknowledges their existence, and none of them are making them go through degrading tasks.
      • Ghosts are probably boring to hang out with, and there's an asshole drill instructor constantly busting their balls at the cemetery. They probably have more of a Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with Frank, that's all.
  • If you get a chance to cross over annually, why didn't Stuart and Cyrus take it? Or any of the people in the cemetery?
    • Frank doesn't say you get a chance annually, he says you get another one about a year after you first die. If you're still too scared to go then or whatever, you probably just have to wait it out on Earth until you fall apart.
  • Why did every single one of Bartlett's victims the first time around refuse to pass on, but all of them after did? Wouldn't the people who'd had an invisible hand strangle them to death be a bit more surprised that they're dead than the people who'd been shot in the chest?
    • The people he killed probably just thought they had heart attacks and died of natural causes or something like that. It was painful and a bit traumatic, but not nearly as much as being chased down and killed by a psycho. Remember, they can't see Johnny, even as he's plunging his hand into their chest.
  • If being a "frightener" pays so badly, why didn't Frank just go back to being an architect?
    • For the same reason he still lives in a half-built shell of a house and his only friends are dead. When his wife died, his life stopped, period.
  • Why can Bartlett possess things, but no other ghost can?
    • The Scythe he carries seems to let him do a lot of things other ghosts can't.
      • He starts possessing things after he loses the scythe.
      • Bartlett's probably just more determined and more flat-out evil than most of the other ghosts we see. He may have picked up a few tricks in Hell, or simply have grown powerful enough to start learning them. Age may also be a factor... along with his greater experiences, he's one of the older ghosts we see. Frank implies that the Judge has special powers that he just never gets to show off in the course of the movie, too.
  • Near the end of the movie after Patricia's shotgun runs out of shells, she grabs a pick-ax off some random table to kill Lucy. Why the hell is there a pick-ax in a hospital?
    • Possibly there was some construction or renovation that required the workers to tear up part of the floor or a wall or something and it was just left there when the hospital shut down.
    • Or somebody's been covertly looting the site for salable copper pipes and so forth, busting through the walls to get to them.
  • On a related note, if the hospital is long since abandoned, how is it the elevator still works?
    • Could be a really old elevator that works off of counterweights?
  • If you miss both chances to pass on, can you hitch along with someone when they die? For instance, you get bored with Earth and want to head to Heaven. Can you wait around a retirement home for someone to kick, and then tag along when they head into the light?
    • Probably. Some ghosts may hang around places like that hoping to catch a ride to the afterlife. But if they were too scared to go into the light on either of the times they were naturally offered a chance, they're probably too scared to do that, so.
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