RELEASED: 2001, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 100 mins
DIRECTOR: Bill Paxton
PRODUCERS: David Buckley, David Kirschner & Corey Sienega
SCREENPLAY: Brent Hanley
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
Bill Paxton as the Dad, Mr. Meiks
Matthew McConaughey as adult Fenton Meiks
Matt O'Leary as young Fenton Meiks
Powers Boothe as FBI Agent Doyle
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Frailty is set in Texas, and begins with Fenton Meiks informing FBI Agent Doyle that he knows his brother Adam is the serial killer the police have been looking for. Adam had apparently committed suicide earlier that day, and Fenton confesses to Agent Doyle that he buried his brother's body in the rose garden close to their childhood home.
Agent Doyle doesn't initially believe Fenton, wondering why he should suddenly confess on behalf of his allegedly serial-killer brother, so Fenton asks if they can together visit the rose garden for evidence.
Agent Doyle and a handcuffed Fenton make their way to the rose garden, and the film then flips into flashback format, telling the story of what happened during Fenton's and Adam's childhood, where they lived a happy life with their widowed father....yet, one day the boys' world is turned upside down when their father suddenly starts to behave strangely, saying he is getting messages from God that he must destroy 'demons' which are being revealed to him by an angel. The two boys then have a battle to fight as they witness and are drawn into their father's mission to obey God and the angel.
That basically sets the scene....watch the film for yourself to find out what happens.
Frailty is one of these films which from the outset, holds great promise. The opening scene of Fenton confessing his brother Adam's crimes of murder to Agent Doyle is set perfectly. The atmosphere is laid-back, quietly grim, with an underlying almost morbid chill-factor.
Immediately I was drawn to the character of the adult Fenton, his demeanour being quietly serious and despite his polite and cooperative attitude, there is the feeling that he possibly could be hiding something. Throughout Frailty, Matthew McConaughey continued to deliver his characterisation of Fenton with a cool, laid-back, almost slightly depressed mood and I loved his gentle, yet exacting and clear speaking voice. I was also impressed with the facial expression of half challenging, half fear that McConaughey managed to retain throughout. Powers Boothe also gave a compelling performance as FBI Agent Doyle, a cop whose manner is quiet and staid, yet conveying a definite 'don't mess with me' aura. McConaughey and Boothe worked very well together, bouncing off of one another with mutually placid, yet chilling exchange.
Moving onto the part of the film which is presented in flashback format, I initially loved the character of Fenton's and Adam's father. Bill Paxton perfectly nailed the role of warm, friendly and caring dad, but once his behaviour did an about-turn when he started to get 'messages from God', for me his character became less convincing. However, Paxton did manage to express an appropriately mad look in his eyes, but I nonetheless couldn't entirely ride comfortably with what the loving dad turned into as it didn't quite add up to me. Perhaps it was because the changes in his behaviour happened all too suddenly?
Both of the boys who played the young Meiks brothers were very good, although Adam's character despite being very relevant to the storyline, is a far less involved part. Matt O'Leary is brilliant though as the young Fenton Meiks, admirably conveying the confusion and fear of a boy who is watching his father lose his grip on reality.
The musical score to Frailty is rather good, being comprised of some quiet, yet tense and agitating violin music (not dissimilar to the music used in parts of Silence Of The Lambs), combined with sounds of an avant-garde nature which are softly percussive blended with choral voices. This music is absolutely perfect for enhancing the mood of Frailty, which overall is quite a dark and brooding film.
Frailty came across to me as a very well-constructed movie with a consistently chilling atmosphere and some quite clever camera angle shots. It is one of these films where I was immediately drawn into the plot and caught up in the laid-back yet dark mood. However, during the last twenty or so minutes, the plot for me spiralled outside of my sphere of understanding as I began to lose awareness of exactly what was happening....some of the finer points becoming seriously fudged.
I also found - and this is a storyline issue rather than one of faulty acting - the father's degeneration into insanity was presented rather clumsily in that I personally believe he would have shown definite tendencies towards being delusory at a much younger age, long before he'd married and had a family of two growing boys. Dad's journey into paranoia happened far too suddenly...almost overnight...and no backup to or reason for his psychological deterioration was revealed. Perhaps that issue in Frailty was intended on a 'need to know' basis, but I personally would have liked to see more of the history of the Meiks family.
Despite the occasional lack of authenticity regarding somebody lapsing into mental illness and the confusion towards the end of the film, I really did enjoy Frailty and felt totally caught up in its atmosphere, which I can only describe as darkly miasmic. It also is a refreshing change to see a film that focuses on serial killing which does contain violence, yet in no way presents those aspects as sensationalism, not in the slightest cashing in on blood, guts and gore. The film simply tells a story, with the violence being incidental rather than the overriding feature.
I certainly would recommend Frailty to anybody who enjoys a thoughtfully presented film that has quite a complex dialogue, which for those who are more used to and prefer action may need to concentrate on quite carefully. Although there are minor flaws in the characterisation of the boys' father and the point towards the end where the story spins off its axis somewhat, Frailty is a well constructed psychological thriller/drama which is a little different from the mainstream. I'm not sure I'd want to watch it again simply because I now am aware of the outcome - even if I didn't quite understand parts of it - but it certainly gripped and drew me in, leaving me feeling a little prickly and a bit disorientated afterwards, mostly because of how well the atmosphere is created and put across.
On a final and lighter note, one of the best parts of Frailty was being able to ogle the rather good-looking Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey. Girls, even if you don't enjoy this type of film, it's worth watching just to drool over these two decidedly hunky males.
At the time of writing, Frailty can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.44 to £16.99
Used: from 1p to £11.75
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Frailty is a 2001 film which was released on DVD back in 2002, directed by and starring Bill Paxton with Matthew McConaughey, Matt O'Leary and Powers Booth the film carries a UK 15 certificate rating and a running time of approximately 100 minutes. I rented this DVD purely based on the reviews I had read on here and now that I have seen the film I can understand why it received the amount of praise that it did.
This is my film only review of this title and if you have seen the film yourself you will understand why in my write up of my opinion of this film I don't give away any spoilers; there are certain plot elements that I cannot openly discuss as they will completely ruin the film, please, therefore be aware that this review is as close to spoiler-free as I can make it.
The film opens with Fenton Mieks (McConaughey) entering the office of FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Booth), he has come with information concerning a serial killer they are hunting who has been given the nickname of 'Gods Hands Killer' Fenton believes the killer to be his younger brother, Adam and whilst Doyle is initially sceptical of Fenton's claims he allows Fenton time to explain the reasons behind the accusations.
Through flashbacks we are taken back to Fenton and Adams childhood, motherless after dying in childbirth whilst giving birth to Adam the two boys live a simple but loving existence with their father (Paxton) a close knit family the two boys are well cared for by their doting father and live a normal everyday life. That is until one night their father awakens the two boys to tell them that God had sent an Angel to him to give him a mission; he has been chosen, by God, to destroy demons and will over time be given the tools in which to fulfil his task and also the names of the people living an ungodly existence (the 'demons'). He explains that both Fenton and Adam must assist him in his mission and that they too will be able to identify the demons from normal members of society and that over time they will continue his work.
Fenton, the older of the boys doesn't believe his father and thinks that he has gone insane, Adam however is younger and more impressionable and accepts this as being the truth despite Fenton pleading with both his father and Adam that what they are discussing is murder. When the tools are brought home (an axe and lead pipe plus a pair of gloves) followed by the first 'demon' Fenton is horrified at his father and despairs when he kills her, refusing to be party to such events Fenton and his father are at loggerheads whilst Adam simply watches on in complete fascination.
Returning back to the present day Agent Doyle begins to trust what Fenton is saying is the truth and when Fenton says he can take the agent to where the victims' bodies are he agrees to go... Rather than reveal any more of the plot here I would just say that all is not as it seems and as we discover more details of Fenton and Adams childhood through flashbacks it would appear that God does indeed work in mysterious ways...
What made this film so great in my opinion is first and foremost the acting; Matthew McConaughey in a straight role rather than his usual 'rom-com' persona is perfectly cast as the adult Fenton and his acting capabilities are utilised far more effectively in a drama role rather than the one dimensional comedy roles he is more famous for. He gives a quiet, introverted performance which is wonderful to watch particularly when speaking to Agent Doyle. I noticed all the nuances of his performance especially his facial expressions and they way he barely moved his lips when talking - he really is outstanding in this role and is so far removed from how you would normally associate him to be.
The same can be said for the young actor playing the childhood Fenton, Matt O'Leary, he too is wonderfully cast in the role and gives a strong, powerful performance as the elder son who is conflicted between the love his has for his brother and father and the shock he has when his life is turned upside down. He delivers a multi-layered performance covering every emotion and really was the highlight of the film for me and given the fact that the majority of the film was seen in flashback and this young actor featured in nearly every scene he really carried the whole film.
Bill Paxton as the fanatical father and Jeremy Sumpter as the young, devout Adam are both great too, although overshadowed and out-acted by O'Leary they are certainly competent enough in their roles and give believable performances. I did feel a little let down by Paxton though, feeling that his scenes were a little 'forced' on occasions but overall the self-directed star gave a compelling performance and his delusional moments were in keeping with the character he was portraying.
As far as storylines go this is another reason to watch the film, the concept of 'God told me to do it' isn't new as far as a defence that murderers have used in real life crimes and by making a film which looks at this is both clever and thought-provoking. Without resorting to being overly religious in theme the film explores the mind-set of a seemingly normal man who has a vision from God, the subject matter is handled sensitively considering the murderous theme and doesn't resort to being blasphemous or portraying the father as a religious 'whack-job'.
Common for films of the early part of this decade this film features a massive twist, which unlike some other film doesn't feel as it if was forced into the screenplay - there are enough clues and spoken dialogue to see it coming though and I did work out what was really happening. Going into the film 'blind' without reading too many spoilers should be the best approach if wanting to see for yourself as the final 20-30 minutes really make it stand apart from others in the genre and for me it was reminiscent of "se7en" and "The sixth sense" . Given the 15 rating there are some unsettling scenes but these are not gory and any violence occurs out of shot so you don't actually witness any of the murders although saying that though the content is strong and if horror/thrillers are not your 'thing' than this film may not be for you.
'Flash back' films can be, for me, annoying as they are sometimes hard to follow. With "Frailty" these scenes are given enough time and space to fully develop and are needed to fully flesh out the character of Fenton and provide enough back story to make the film as watchable as it is. The pacing of the film is perfectly pitched allowing plenty of time for the viewer to make their assumptions as to what they are watching and fully understand what they are seeing. If I had to find any criticism with the film the only thing I could nit-pick at would be the single 'vision' scene as its inclusion did look quite low-budget and cheaply shot therefore its impact wasn't as grand as it possibly could have been. The whole film though does have a low-budget feel to it but for the most part this doesn't detract from the story, the simple ensemble cast have enough dialogue and moments to shine and throwing any additional money at the film would have only meant for bigger and gorier murders which were really not needed.
For a twisty thriller with a strong, interesting storyline with fine acting from all concerned this really is a fine choice and is a film that I am glad that I saw, the five star overall rating that the film has on this site is testament to how good this film actually is and my personal five star rating adds another perfect score to the ratings.
For just under a fiver on Amazon this is a cheap price to pay for such a great film and for me would be money well spent, I rented my copy from Lovefilm and now that I have seen the film it would be one for me to buy at a later date as I definitely would watch it again.
Overall then a massive 'Thumbs Up' from me and a film that I would highly recommend. Thanks for reading my review.
This is quite an interesting story and the whole feel and style of it is different to what you probably are used to.
The story is about a family of three, Fenton and Adam Meiks and their father.
It displays your perfect happy family coping just fine without their mother who died a long time ago.
However the movie knocks straight into the story when Fenton's father rushes in to tell his kids that he has had a message from god himself. He claims to have had a vision that he has been picked to do Gods work, to become Gods hand and to slay the demons.
Fenton waking up the next morning believes all of it was a dream because imagine yourself being told that, its a bit uncanny. All through breakfast nothing is mentioned until Fenton's dad drops his sons off at school and as casual as saying 'have a nice day at school' he says dont mention anything about last night.
Days pass where Fenton is worrying of the consequences however as nothing happens he soon convinces himself its over until Fenton's dad drives home in the late hours of the night and shows his sons what he has come home with, a woman, crying, scared for her life, tied up in his shed and now Fenton's dad sees the womans sins before using one of three of God's weopons, an axe to slay the demon that she was.
So what is so wrong about this story, is it not right to do by God's way, if they have sinned and God says they must be slayed, they must be slayed right?
If they are demons, reeking havok upon the world should they not be tossed from this world.
But if they are people like you and me and something is wrong with Fenton's dad maybe he is just a cold blooded killer but how can he act so normal most of the time and then suddently become a killer?
The story is quite definatly fascinating and intriguing.
I think it would be nice to see a bit more gore in the movie because you do not physically see any of the kills but i think they were just trying to avoid being called a 'slasher movie.
Overall the acting was decent and the sound was ok.
But to be honest, it doesnt have big dramatic scenes, it doesnt have big explosions but there is something to the movie that keeps you gripped.
Not the best movie in the world but not one worth skipping by.
When Fenton Meiks mother dies in childbirth, it is left to him and his father to look after the newborn child, Adam. The trio lives a simple and happy existence, with Fentons father making a living as a car mechanic and Fenton attending to Adams pastoral care. But their happiness is about to be shattered.
One night, Fentons father awakes in a dream-like state and receives a message from what he believes to be an angel sent by God. The angel advises the man that Armageddon is nigh and that the world is full of demons, posing as human beings. Whilst God himself has plans to deal with the demons, he also needs the aid of Fenton, Adam and their father in the battle to destroy the demons. The angel tells Fentons father that he will send him the weapons that he needs to carry out the task, and that he will also send him the names of the aforementioned demons. It will then be left to the three agents of God to destroy the demons.
Excited and frightened in equal doses, Fentons father rushes into the boys bedroom, where he wakes them up and tells them about his vision. Whilst Adam is immediately excited and convinced about the story, Fenton is more sceptical, and fears that his father has become deluded. When nothing more is said on the matter, Fenton initially dismisses the whole thing as a dream. But then his father returns home from work with the weapons that God has led him to discover an axe, a pair of gloves and a steel bar. Worse still, in a few days time, Fentons father returns home from work with the first list of names of demons a list that Fenton can only recognise as a list of inhabitants of the local town.
There is worse to come. A few days later, Fentons father is late home from work. The boys are finally woken in the dead of night by the noise of their fathers truck. Looking down into the yard below, Fenton is horrified to see that his father has returned home with what appears to be a body, tied up in a sack. He rushes downstairs to see what is happening and discovers that his father has claimed his first victim a young, local nurse whose name appeared first in the list of demons identified by the angel of God. Brandishing what he believes to be the weapons of God, Fentons father has every intention of killing the woman, firm in the belief that she is truly a demon. As his father raises the axe above his head, Fenton believes that his father is completely mad. But it is only when the axe falls that the nightmare really begins
Frailty is one of those unassuming little movies that seem to appear on the shelves of your local video rental store without any advertisement or hype. I rented it quite by chance, following the recommendation of the guy in the store and found myself completely immersed in an extremely unsettling tale of murderous obsession. Frailty is most definitely quite unlike anything I have seen on film for some time.
The story is a combination of present day action coupled with narrated historical events. During the films title sequence, we see images and press cuttings explaining that a serial killer known as the Gods Hand Killer has claimed six victims. The opening scene of the film then switches to the offices of the FBI, where an adult Fenton Meik has turned up claiming that he knows the identity of the serial killer. The film then becomes a discussion between Fenton and the detective in charge of the case, with Fenton explaining the story of his deranged father. Dont be fooled into thinking that with this information in hand youll be able to predict where the story is headed though Frailty has a few twists and stings in its tale that I can almost guarantee will take you by the throat. As Fenton tells his terrible tale, the action switches between the present day and the events of Fentons childhood.
The story behind Frailty is unsettling in a number of ways. Primarily it is unsettling because the viewer is never really quite sure what is going to happen next. In much the same way that Fentons life turns from stability into turmoil, the viewer is gradually beset by a story that seems to defy belief. What on earth is a little boy who believes that his father is a serial killer supposed to do? Who will believe his story? How does he cope with the turmoil of loving his father whilst being terrified by him in equal doses? The film is rather disturbing in that it portrays a man who was previously shown as loving his family dearly suddenly subjecting them to the torment of watching him kill people. To make matters worse, the normal conventions of a killer seem to disappear. Fentons father is still gentle, loving and attentive, because he firmly believes that what he is doing is right. His faith that he is acting in Gods will is such that he sees absolutely nothing wrong in what he does. As such, we dont really have a bad guy to fear or despise. Fenton is like us. He sees only innocent men and women, abducted and slaughtered in apparently cold blood and he therefore hasnt got a clue what he should do.
All these things aside, the key thing that makes Frailty unsettling is because you know that there is something else going on. The first rule of a psychological thriller is that if everything seems to easy, then it probably is and that certainly applies here. The clues are there, but you tend not to take too much notice of details as the story holds your attention too tightly to think about anything else. With hindsight, there was logically only one direction in which the story could go, and I did have a bit of an inkling, but I shant lie and say that I had it worked out from the beginning. In summary, I think it is fair to say that nothing is quite what it seems and I shall say no more
Despite its murderous plot, Frailty is NOT a gory or instantly horrific film. We see very little of the murders, watching instead the horrified faces of Fenton and his brother. Frailty is a much subtler affair. We dont need to see an axe being plunger into someones neck to know that they will be dead. The squeak of the axe head as it is wrenched from the bone and the noise of body parts being dropped into a shallow grave is infinitely more horrific than blood and gore could ever be. Needless to say, the plot is quite unpleasant though the idea of abduction and murder could never be anything less. As such, the film carries a 15 certificate and rightfully so. The modern and historical settings are stark in contrast, and purposefully so. The scenes of Fentons childhood are set in his childhood town. As such, everything is bright, sunny and innocent. The present day scenes with the FBI officer are set at night, during a torrential rainstorm and there is a marked air of gloom and foreboding with good reason.
The cast of Frailty is small, but excellent. Fenton is played by two actors Matthew OLeary is the childhood version, whilst Matthew McConaughey is the adult version. Both are extremely effective. McConaughey, more often seen in adolescent comedies and romantic films is generally a wasted talent as far as Im concerned, and Frailty amply demonstrates why. In this film, he is disturbed, and quietly menacing, without being aggressive or erratic. His Texan drawl seems only to add to his strange character and even his narrating voice is strangely compelling. Bill Paxton (who also directs) is superb as the demented father utterly convincing throughout. OLeary is just as effective and betrays maturity beyond his years he has since gone on to star in the Spy Kids films. Powers Boothe as the FBI cop wasnt quite right, but did his best. Whilst the scenes set in Fentons childhood were atmospheric and substantial, Boothe seemed to make the modern-day scenes superficial.
Similarities to other movies? The way in which the director toys with the viewer is reminiscent of Se7en, although Frailty is nowhere near as graphic. Similarly, the twist at the end certainly couldnt match Se7ens head in a box, but the overall idea seemed similar to me. The tone of the film and the concept behind it continually reminded me of something that Stephen King would write I had to check on the Internet Movie Database to confirm that it wasnt. If you like psychological thrillers then I think you will enjoy Frailty very much but you probably wouldnt want to watch it on a dark, rain swept lonely evening.
Very rarely nowadays, does Hollywood come out with a thriller which does not have a twist in the tale. Even more unusual are those occasions when the twist is not blatantly obvious at least an hour before the film even starts. So its a refreshing change when you do manage to find a film to tax your mind and test you intuition.
Frailty is such a film, and much more.
In fact, it is a movie that will suck you deep into a web of intrigue and pre-conception, lull you into a feeling of warm complacency, and then spit you out, slap your face and bite your bum.
A string of brutal murders have the FBI baffled, until, one night , Fenton Meikes (played by Matthew McConaughey) walks in off the street and insists on speaking to the Special Agent in Charge (played by Powers Boothe). Bewildered and sceptical, McConaughey tells the Boothe that the killer is his brother, Adam, and that he has killed him and buried him in the Thurman Rose Garden, near the house where they grew up.
And so begins the strange history of murder which forms the central premise of the film.
When Fenton and Adam were children, their father (played by Bill Paxton) claims to have been visited by an angel, bearing news from God about a great task that the family were to perform which would require them to use three divine tools.
Eventually, having been guided by God to these tools ; an axe, a length of lead pipe and a pair of gloves, the father receives his holy orders, along with a list. The list contains, according to the father, the names of people who are actually demons, and who God has tasked them to kill.
Paxton sets about these executions with great gusto, aided and abetted, albeit reluctantly, by his two sons. He finds that if he incapacitates the demons with the lead pipe, he can carry them back to his shed where the axe will finish the job. He also finds that, if he touches their skin with his bare hands, he can see their crimes against humanity, and he encourages his sons to touch the demons, so that they can be sure that what they are doing is Gods will.
Adam touches the demon and immediately gets caught up in the frenzy, but Fenton refuses to indulge his fathers insanity. Instead, he fetches the town sheriff to prevent any more death. Unfortunately, the father is so convinced of the divinity of his mission that he has to kill the sheriff as well.
Distraught at having killed an innocent human being, the father makes Fenton dig a deep cellar in the garden, where he incarcerates him, without food, and with barely enough water to survive, until Fenton too has a visitation from the angel
After days of this punishment, Fenton receives his epiphany, and pleads with his father to let him out so that they can continue the Lords work together. Overjoyed by this, his father releases him, and after a few days, the pair go off together to collect the next demon.
Down in the root cellar that Fenton dug, his father hands him the axe, so that he can despatch the demon that they have caught. But instead, Fenton plants the weapon deep into his fathers stomach, watched by a horrified Adam.
Whilst McConaughey is telling Boothe the story, the two of them move from the office into the agents car and head for the rose garden where Adam and the demons are buried .
AND THATS ALL I WILL SAY ABOUT THE PLOT
Actually, the reason for cutting it short is so that the denouement is still in tact for any of you who might want to buy this film. And believe me when I say you should.
This is not one of your all-action, special effect laden blockbuster movies with an explosion a minute. There are no car chases or martial arts. There are no witty retorts.
This is a film which is ACTED by its, very small, cast.
And the acting is excellent by each and every member.
Bill Paxton stands out, for his portrayal of the insane religious zealot, bringing just the right amount of mania to the character, without turning into Jack Nicholson.
The SFX are non-existent, which is fine, as there is no real need to sully this tale with bright lights and dancing girls.
The only extra on the DVD release is the Theatrical Trailer.
Normally, I would berate a film for providing SOOOOOO little in the way of value, but with this film it somehow makes sense. After all, how do you do a Making Of . documentary for a film which takes place either in an office, in a car or in flash back? How do you explain the SFX when there are none? And a commentary would just subtract from the film, with people spoiling the plot.
This film is probably one of the best thrillers ever made.
It is a rarity of character insight and plot which truly deserves accolades and awards, but unfortunately has been bypassed for less worthy dross.
If there is one DVD that everyone should have in their collection, it has to be FRAILTY
I've already written about Frailty the movie in another opinion. But to save you scrabbling around to read it I'll simply recap. Frailty marks the directorial debut of actor Bill Paxton. It's a small creepy little thriller that features an engaging story and good performances. Paxton stars as the widowed father of two young boys. Family life is pleasant and simple but soon the father is visited by what he believes to be angels. They tell him to kill the demons that walk the earth in human form. Soon the father is committing terrible murders with the unwanting help of his sons. The elder son soon begins to question whether his dad is insane or actually is seeing these demons in their true form. This story is recounted to an FBI agent years later when the 'Gods Hand killer' stories resurface by the son. Various twists and turns are encountered along the way in a simple but creepy tale. Paxton's direction is actually quite assured as the film looks pretty good for it's low budget. He also creates a decent amount of tension in the film and keeps it from being just another Direct-To-Video shocker. The performances from the young cast and Paxton are what impress most. The story isn't the most original but for 90-minutes it doesn't outstay it's welcome. The same can't be said for the Region 2 DVD however. Released through Paramount this is a release that harks back to the early days of DVD when UK consumers were short-changed in the extras department. All you get aside from the film is the theatrical trailer. Import the film from America and you're blessed with commentary, deleted scenes and more. It's a shame because those things may make the film worth purchasing and keeping in your collection. However Frailty is probably only a rental without them. The film presentation itself can't be faulted. The moody cinematography of the film is well represented in the transfer. It's pre
tty sharp and give you only a few soft spots throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also pretty atmospheric and has many great surround sound moments that give good ambience. I've seen this release for around £6.99 in some current high street sales; I would say it's a good purchase at this price, as you can always sell it on later for not much less. Having said that I'm sure if you shop around then the extra loaded R1 version can be bought for around the same price.
Frailty Released : 2001 Genre : Horror Rating : 15 Director : Bill Paxton Running Time : 96 minutes Cast : Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Luke Askew and Levi Kreis. Every now and again a little known film will pop up and catch every one by surprise - 'The Ring' is a prime example and so is this film. I hired the film without any prior knowledge of it and hadn't even read a review of it, I just picked it up by chance. It is a low budget horror thriller but don't let that put you off - it is full of quality and in my view easily eclipses other much higher budget horror flicks such as the 'Scream' series and 'The Blair Witch Project'. I would go as far as to say it would probably be the finest horror thriller of the last few years although 'The Ring' would push it close. The story is set in 1970's smalltown Texas, Meiks is a man with 2 sons - Adam and Fenton. Meiks is idolised by his sons more-so since their mother died. They represent a quite normal family - dad works as a mechanic while his sons play in the rose-garden and walk together to school. The boys world is turned upside down one night when their father comes into their room, disturbs their sleep and exclaims in an unnerving tone that he has been chosen by god to destroy demons who walk in the form of normal human beings and he will need their help! The boys take the news in completely different ways, younger Adam embraces the revelation with gusto 'were a family of superheroes' he proudly declares while older and wiser Fenton fears for his fathers sanity and struggles to come to terms with what is happening around him. The story then leaps to the modern day to a man entering a Dallas police building to tell a Police detective who is responsible for the serial 'Gods hand' killings. This is a grown up Fenton and he narrates the full story o
f the events of his childhood to the sceptic detective. The film then unwinds into flashback mode as Adam recounts every grisly detail of his family's secret and we witness the events as they happened back then. As the story unfolds and the scenes of modern day and flashback intertwine the police detective slowly realises that the disturbed man before him is actually telling the truth and that he himself is more connected to the case than he first realised. Acting wise this film needed a big performance from the main role - Meiks, the man chosen to commit gods work. The role was played by the director himself Bill Paxton (Apollo13, Twister) and he is utterly convincing. Considering this was his directing debut, he has created something special. He is very spooky as the dad who cares and loves his children. Even though his life has changed overnight and his eldest son thinks he's crazy he's controlled, quite genuine and charismatic. He really does think he's completing gods work, so much so he carries it out in full view of his kids. The kids roles were demanding too because they were as much victims in the whole situation as the demons were, they couldn't escape the horror even if they had wanted to. Matt O Leary (young Fenton) demands special praise for the way he struggled with the anguish at having to decide between loyalty and betrayal. The subjects of good vs evil, murder vs gods work are what lie in his mind and he has to decide which course of action is right - what a choice. Matthew McConaughey (older Fenton) tells the story with aplomb, his part is particularly compelling and atmospheric. Like I said this film is in the horror genre but like all the best horror films it isn't graphic and instead works deep into your pysche. The story itself is very unusual, delving into how ordinary people on the outside can be quite different on the inside. The film is quite gripping from the very first scene and the suspense stead
ily increases throughout even though there are a few unexpected plot turns. It is incredibly dark and creepy at times, bordering on disturbing on occasion, especially the scenes where the sons witness demons being hacked to death by their father with an axe and the three travelling around looking for an opportunity to carry out their dirty deeds. From quite early in the film you think you can see which way the film is heading but beware, there is a big plot-twist at the end and it is stunning and brilliant. The film is low budget and you can tell this by the no-frills camerawork but that has led to some inventive scenes at the same time. All in all this is a highly accomplished film which deserves considerable praise - unique, intriguing story, superb acting performances and equally superb direction. Some great lines from the film : "Are we gonna go get us a demon dad" "Don't cry for her son, she wasn't human. We don't kill people, we destroy demons" Many thanks for reading and rating ======================================================== WormThatTurned2003
I was in my local branch of Game last week and they had some large discounts on certain DVD titles. Frailty was one of them and I?d heard some good things and at £6 for a relatively new release it was worth the risk. In a small Texas community there is a serial killer who is know as the ?Gods Hand Killer?, his murderous spree has left little to go for the FBI. One rainy night Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) shows up at the FBI offices and proclaims he knows who the killer is. FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Booth) is at first sceptical until Meiks starts to recount his story. Fenton was raised single handed with his brother by their down to earth father (Bill Paxton). One night their father claims he was visited by god and told to destroy the demons that walk among us. These demons come in human form and their father murdered these people believing it was god?s work. All the bodies are buried in a rose garden and on a car journey Meiks tells the whole story and reveals his family?s sinister secrets. Frailty is perhaps not entirely original but you have to bare in mind that most of these films go straight to video. The fact that Frailty got a theatrical release and attracted some decent talent should tell you that it has more to offer. Bill Paxton stars alongside McConaughey but the film also marks his directorial debut. Surprisingly this is a very well made film that makes me want to see Paxton working more behind the camera. This is a horror thriller and Paxton could have easily gone for corny scare tactics and gore. Instead he keeps things very restrained and focuses on the relationship between a father and his sons. Any violence is left to the imagination and we see the reaction rather than the event itself. In a way this makes it more disturbing as the reaction we see is often from the two sons. He also shoots the film with some creepy well-composed shots while working on what is obviously a small budget. The acting is solid as well,
Paxton does a good everyday man while McConaughey is good as the tortured soul. The actors playing Paxtons two sons are also very good with Matt O?Leary already making a name for himself in quite a few big films. The script as well has some good pacing and not much in the way of dialogue howlers. Like I said this could have gone the way of an over the top serial killer with religious delusions but everything is very normal and that?s why it works-you believe it more. I?ve seen some reviews that although not bad do quibble with the fact that this is like an X-Files episode. Personally I think that?s clutching at straws, looking for something negative. Frailty is a well-made little film with some good twists and above all else a good story that entertains and also unnerves you. I recommend it.
Bill Paxton is a man you'll be more familiar with seeing in front of the camera rather than behind it, but considering the absolutely excellent job he has done with Frailty, his first attempt at taking the director's chair, we might be seeing a slight career change. Paxton has worked previously under the tutelage of some of Hollywood's great directors, such as the likes of James Cameron and Ron Howard amongst others, and obviously he has learnt a few things because Frailty is an absolutely superb directorial debut! It's easily the best horror thriller I saw in 2002 and despite an arguably unnecessarily contrived ending (which incidentally worked really well for me) it's a movie I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who asked. Frailty is a very dark, very gruesome little head trip of a movie which grabs you by the balls and slowly tightens its grip remorselessly until it has you on your knees ready for the swinging axe. If the recent spate of lacklustre serial killer movies or tongue-in-cheek self-referential horrors with their transparent twists and been-there, done-that storylines have turned you off the genre (and no one could blame you if you never wanted to see either ever again) then this is the movie you have been waiting for as it's guaranteed to breath new hope into the notion that these genres aren't dead. Frailty is deeply unsettling in its approach and delivery, with the questions it asks about religion and madness, of gods and monsters, of sanity and religious fanaticism but it's also the creepiest, most atmospheric mainstream Hollywood movie I've seen since for a very long time and I loved every second of it! We begin in modern times, in Texas in fact, where the F.B.I. are on the trail of a serial killer who calls himself the "God's Hand Killer" but are so far completely baffled as to his identity. That is until a dishevelled, melancholic Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) slou
ches into investigator Wesley Doyle's (Powers Booth) office and proceeds to tell him he knows who the killer is - his brother Alex Meiks. Doyle is naturally suspicious, so Fenton begins to reel off the dark, twisted tale of his childhood and exactly what made Alex the man he is today. The tale begins in 1979 with the 12 year old Fenton(Matthew O'Leary) living with his loving father (Bill Paxton) and brother Alex(Jeremy Sumpter), their mother having died during the birth of her second child. Although only a kid himself Fenton looks after his younger brother and has done for as long as he can remember but it's a happy, loving family until one dark night things are set to take a horrible turn. Fenton's father comes to his boys during the night claiming to have had a vision from God, who has told him he must rid the world of demons and has provided him with a list of names and will soon give him the magical tools with which to carry out the killings - vanquishment, in his eyes, it's not murder because they are demons and not human beings. His boys must help him in this task, it's 'God's will'. Whilst the younger Alex is enthusiastic about their mission, Fenton is horrified as his father begins his work, kidnapping and 'vanquishing the demons' whose names the angel has provided for him, yet who Fenton can only see as human beings when the axe comes down, time and again... Frailty is a very stylish and creepy movie and it knows it. The creepy atmosphere is relentlessly foreboding and Paxton injects enough uncertainty into the plot to leaves you pondering on whether you are watching the exactment of a madman's delusions or whether you really are witnessing God's vengeful wrath being executed upon evil-doers. Frailty blurs the question of whether the demons are real or not, whether Fenton's father really did receive visions from God and whether indeed there is a question to be asked abou
t our very own accepted vision of reality and it does it with a fair amount of skill and artistry. Paxton has opted to film virtually 99% of his movie under the cover of darkness and low lighting which is highly effective at maintaining the steadily escalating tension built up as Fenton relays how his father's perceived psychosis deepens as he carries out God's command and he tries to protect Alex from being sucked into his world. You get a real feel of hopelessness and desperation as the 12 year old Fenton realises he has no choice but to help his father vanquish 'demons' and watches with increasing desperation as his brother becomes increasingly more brainwashed into believing everything his father says is true. It's quite horrific to watch a father's twisted religious madness shaping his two young children's minds in their formative years and to think how these notions of good and evil will and do affect their later years. The maturity of performance from Matthew O'Leary certainly helps here as he is superb throughout and certainly a name to look out for in the future, but it's an undeniably well told, captivating story which Paxton weaves. Paxton himself as an actor has never been quite this good before, perhaps because he is directing himself and knows better than anyone his strengths and weaknesses, but whatever the reason, his portrayal of a madman is decidedly believable and unnervingly 'real'. Forget foaming at the mouth, twitchiness and all those other 'Hollywood-actor-playing-a-madman' traits because Paxton here delivers words of lunacy with total conviction and a jarring air of normality. Frailty is a movie which is well acted all round for that matter, Powers Booth even manages to bring something a little more 'real' to the usually deeply stereotypical F.B.I. agent role which is saying something in itself! Paxton has said himself that the movie's title refers
to the budget on which he had to work with but, not for the first time, I wonder if this hasn't just worked in a director's favour. There is absolutely no gore here at all for example, whether by design or because of the cost involved is left to speculation, yet, you'll be left thinking at the end that you've sat through a rather bloody movie indeed. For sure, there is more than enough implied violence but the camera cuts away at the last moment to leave you own mind to fill in the blanks - which it naturally does far more graphically than any movie maker could possibly portray with special effects and fake blood. In this and in the other ways Paxton builds up the tension and terror, Frailty is almost Hitchcockian in style. One place the lack of budget shows however, is in the soundtrack - not that it's a bad soundtrack, just that it feels like the exact same soundtrack you've heard in every single serial killer thriller in the last 20 years. It's a minor gripe and yes, I am fumbling around trying to find fault. I suppose this isn't the *perfect* horror thriller because you do certainly get the feeling it could have ended quite nicely 15 minutes before it actually does so without having lost anything and with no one being any the wiser. It would still have been a great movie and probably would not have divided critics as much as it has done as all see fit to at least mention the conclusion as being anything from 'unnecessary' to having that tacked-on feeling and being a little contrived. I can't argue, it is, but I don't think it detracts too much unles you're looking for faults. There's also some obligatory twists which any seasoned movie watcher will see coming a mile off as always, but for once I didn't find any of this detracted in any way whatsoever from what is a very enjoyable movie. Personally, I loved this movie. I love the creepy atmosphere and I love the way Frailty blurs reali
ty and fiction so you were never sure what is real and what isn't. Is Fenton's father insane or do the demons really exist and therefore is he really only carrying out God's will delivered to him by angels? Make your own mind up by watching the movie. The simple answer without watching is to condemn all those who commit acts like his in the name of God as being nuts, the more complex answer would be to question where you draw the line between lunacy and belief. Was Joan Of Arc a nutter or God's mouthpiece? Really? What about Jesus Christ? Where are we drawing the line and why and on whose say so? Would any of these three be considered anything other than fanatics to be condemned as such and locked in a padded cell in today's supposedly 'enlightened society'...the likes of Fenton's father would be and frequently are, yet does God really speak to some people and who condemns them for receiving these words and who declares they really aren't carrying out His will or condemns them for it? People spend so long looking for God and yet when someone jumps up and says they found him, the others claim he is a liar or sick in the head. Do they have a mental Frailty, or do the rest have a Frailty in their beliefs? Watch Frailty and enjoy it on whatever level you want to enjoy it on, but do watch it, because it's just great on either level and comes highly, highly recommended from me.