OUTSIDE THE BOX: Frailty
Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matthew O'Leary
Directed by: Bill Paxton
Watching the skillfully crafted and highly unsettling horror film Frailty
is similar to driving by the scene of a fatal traffic accident.
In both cases, you are disturbed by what you see, yet you still can't help but look on with a sense of morbid fascination.
Frailty is a much needed boost to the horror/thriller genre.
It also provides star actor Bill Paxton (Aliens, A Simple Plan)
with the opportunity to pull double-duty by taking his first shot in the
director's chair. If Frailty is any indication, he may have found his
As the movie opens, a mysterious man calling himself Fenton Meeks (Matthew McConaughey) walks into the office of FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe). The man claims to know the identity of the God's Hand serial killer, the perpetrator of a string of murders unsolved in the area for over 20 years. Doyle, too skeptical to believe yet too intrigued to dismiss, hears him out.
The movie splits its time between modern-day scenes involving the agent and Fenton, and extended flashbacks of Fenton's youth. Within these flashbacks, the viewer meets his caring single father (Paxton), simply credited as "Dad."
According to Dad, it was God's decree that him and his two sons work together to eliminate the demons that walk the earth disguised as human beings talk about father-son bonding.
Young Adam is frightened, but understands that you can't argue with the will of God. Fenton, on the other hand, thinks his ol' Dad is nuts. However, under the threat of eternal damnation and other spirit-breaking psychological tortures inflicted by his father, he finds himself participating in spite of his horror and confusion.
The key performance in Frailty is that of Matthew O'Leary, who
plays Fenton. It is both fascinating and heartbreaking to watch his youthful
denial transform into a terrifying reality when his loving Dad buries
the first "demon" in the backyard rose garden.
When Frailty opened in theatres last year, the film received
an incredible critical reception that hailed it as one of the best of
the year. However, keeping with the commonly held belief that the public
doesn't really listen to critics, the film opened quietly and faded fast.
Perhaps its subject matter was too dark for a mass audience.
Whether you like the film or not, one thing's for certain after
watching Frailty, you'll never look at a devout religious person
the same way again.