US (dir. Bill Paxton)
Cast: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Luke Askew, Derk Cheetwood, Missy Crider, Cynthia Ettinger, Alan Davidson, Vincent Chase, Gwen McGee, Lance E. Nichols, Edgar Davis, Levi Kreis, Edmond Scott Ratliff, Rebecca Tilney, Blake King, Brad Berryhill, Greg Serano, Jim Flowers, John Paxton, Richard A. Bell, Chelsea Blain Butler, Jennifer Drake, Betty Gurule
Synopsis: A man confesses to an FBI agent his family’s story of how his religious fanatic father’s visions lead to a series of murders to destroy supposed “demons.”
Review: It seems as though a lot of people consider “Frailty” to be one of the great, underrated horror films of the 21st century. Surprisingly directed by, and starring, forgettable actor Bill
Pullman Paxton (from “Aliens” and, well, “Twister”) this suspense-laden, psychological, religious horror/thriller is fairly suspenseful and disturbing, but at the same time it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. It’s good, but it’s by no means fantastic. In fact, it would take an entire re-working of the film’s final act to make this more than just above average.
While “Frailty” is successful in being both suspenseful and immensely disturbing (it’s really a film about child abuse when taken at surface value) it’s simply not as effective as it could be. For a film that demands both the audience’s attention and patience for a good length of time, one would almost insist upon there being a worthwhile payoff in the end, but alas, there simply isn’t. The “twist” ending feels a lot like a simple cheat (a character who identifies himself as one person for most of the film admits he actually is another person altogether) and the inconsistencies in the plot cripple the film’s execution of the “shocking” finale. Thus the ending, purportedly the film’s best feature, feels more than a little unsatisfying.
“Frailty” begins with Fenton Meeks recounting his troubled childhood, aiding and abetting his religiously motivated serial killer father, to an FBI agent. Meeks’ brother Adam, idolized their father and participated more actively in helping him find and kill “demons” who were in human form. Meeks’ confession is brought on due to the belief that his brother, Adam, is the notorious “God’s Hand” serial killer that the FBI is after.
“Frailty” feels a lot like Paxton’s crack at making a horror thriller in the same style as a Stephen King tale. The story is fairly decent (of course, until the ending) and it is oddly compelling throughout. The horror here is quiet and subdued, and though this is indeed a horror film, it’s more along the lines of “Silence of the Lambs” or to a lesser extent, “From Within” The audience comes to believe in one thing, purely based on rational thinking, until the irrational explanation for the events of the film is given (backed up by supernatural forces). In many ways, I guess you could say that the film is a metaphor for faith; believing in something so absurd and unlikely even in the face of reason.
Without the strength of the first three-quarters of the script and some incredible performances by Paxton and the child actors portraying Adam and Fenton, the film wouldn’t really be anything special. McConaughey is surprisingly intense here, and I say so because my knowledge of his acting is limited to those deplorable rom-coms he’s always in. You know the ones… where each movie poster perpetually shows him leaning against another woman or just fucking leaning sideways for no discernible reason. God, what a douche.
Suffice it to say, “Frailty” may very well be my only favorite McConaughey film, and he pretty much just functions as the film’s narrator, so I guess that’s not really saying much about his talent.
“Frailty” is a good film, but there’s nothing that makes it incredibly awesome or absolutely worth seeing. Let’s just say that there are definitely a lot worse ways to kill an hour and a half of your time.