Frailty (2001)

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Bill Paxton is used to being in front of the camera after having worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, from James Cameron to Sam Raimi, but Frailty is the first time we’ve witnessed Paxton’s talent behind the screen.

The plot is mostly told through a series of flashbacks during a conversation between an enigmatic man played by Matthew McConaughey and FBI agent Wesley Doyle portrayed by Powers Boothe, who is investigating a serial killer case. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Fenton, grew up in rural Texas with his father (played by Paxton) and brother. One night the father tells the boys that he has had a vision and God has chosen the family to wipe out the demons that walk on Earth. The father begins to abduct and kill people and whilst Fenton’s younger brother Adam is eager to step in his father’s footsteps, Fenton looks on horrified and eventually comes clean to the authorities. Needless to say, this doesn’t exactly go down well and results in chaos.

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Frailty does a great job of getting the audience involved from the very beginning. It starts out very strongly, with a cracking combination of eeriness and a thrilling plot line. I particularly like the ambiguous way the film deals with the ‘demons’ and at no point are we as the viewer ever sure if they really are or aren’t demons. Unlike the majority of movies that deal with serial killers, there isn’t a lot of gore in Frailty, with most of the killings happening off-screen. As a big fan of the likes of John Carpenter, I am a big believer in the power of the imagination and this film really did allow for my imagination to run wild by knowing just what and what not to show.

The fantastic build up falls flat in the final minutes of the film. Sadly, instead of just showing the audience the full story and how the boys came to be the adults they are, the film strives to surprise us with a twist that was easily predicted. The final 20 or so minutes of the movie just do not mesh with the rest of the film, it made me wonder whether I’d fallen asleep at the end and woke up to a different film. From a movie that started out by knocking slasher clichés on the head, yet for some reason then welcomes them with open arms in the final scene. Regardless of the disappointing ending, this is a chillingly fantastic movie for at least an hour.

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Score: 333/666