Review Date:
Director: Bill Paxton
Writer: Brent Hanley
Producers: David Blocker, David Kirshner, Corey Sienega
Bill Paxton
Matthew McConaughey
Powers Boothe
What would you do if your single, loving, upright father came into your room as a child, and told both you and your little brother that God had just delivered a message to him, and that you were all “super-heroes” in a sense, placed on this Earth to get rid of certain “demons”, disguised as human beings? What if he then showed you a list of 7 people who you all needed to murder, in order to achieve God’s will? And what if he then came home one night, with one of the people on this list and asked that the killings begin? Well, what would you do or think? Either way, see this movie and find out what they did.
Awesome! Every year, a couple of movies slip by general audiences, fly under the upcoming movies radar and don’t get a lot of hype building up to their release, but when you sit down to watch them, with very few expectations, very little known about the project and a general carte blanche to the happenings on screen, it’s amazing how engulfed you can get into a story and how just one film can blow you away as a whole. FRAILTY is just that movie, with a dense atmosphere, creepy settings within a small town white picket fence environment, an amazing cast from top to bottom, a slow-moving but effective build-up, some scary moments, twists, a couple of turns and an overall idea that will have you slapping yourself, for you didn’t see it coming. I always knew that something was “off” about this picture, even as it moved along, but I could never put my finger directly on it. I’m actually very glad that I wasn’t able to, because it allowed me to go deeper inside its characters, deeper inside its sick world and deeper inside the insanity that we witness on screen. If I would have known or guessed the overall idea beforehand, it might not have been as overwhelming (which is why a second screening might not necessarily deliver the same walloping effect, in my opinion). Of course, I won’t say anything more about it here, fearing that I might take away from your own experience, but needless to say, I was impressed by this film’s entire package.

Starting with Bill Paxton’s surprisingly deft ability to capture all of the nuances, the nooks and the crannies of this creepfest, with quite the look of an experienced eye for a first time director. At to that, the fact that the same dude plays the lead character in the film as well, a man who cannot be played as an over-the-top zealot or nut, in order for us to stay in focus, and Paxton, once more, does an amazing job of convincing us of his crazy beliefs. The man actually believes that God has given him and his sons the task of killing “demons” (aka other humans) on Earth, and after a while, you begin to start believing it yourself (that’s how good he is!). Of course, common sense tells us otherwise, so his two sons also have to play their roles with conviction, and they do, especially Matthew O’Leary, as the older, wiser son who believes very simply that his dad has gone nuts. Add that to the great Powers Boothe, finally given a chance to shine in a “bigger” film, and Matthew McConaughey, delivering an ambiguously chilling performance that makes the film even more believable, and I gotta tell you, I was hooked, lined and sunk into this baby. By the time the ending rolled around, and the girls had all dropped their tops (figuratively speaking, of course), I bought it all with a little drool rolling down the side of my mouth as a bonus.

This is one disturbing movie, folks. It aims to creep you out, and it delivers on all sides. I think much of your own “enjoyment” from the picture will likely depend on whether or not you are pulled into the characters’ respective plights, and I was quite invested in them all. The story was intriguing, the mood was devastatingly eerie, the transition between the family’s early days together and its eventual path was well handled, the psychological effects on the kids was credible, and the scenes in which certain people were murdered, were also quite shocking (one particular scene almost had me jumping out of my seat-despite the fact that all of the murders are actually off-screen). But I have to say that what really kept me into this movie was the relationship between the father and his sons. This flick could’ve been blown off if this connection had not been played out with tangible credibility or love behind it, but Paxton does a great job, as both an actor and director, of giving the audience a true sense of the father’s struggle between the love for his sons and his apparent “mission from God”. You see him fighting with this dilemma throughout the movie, and the ultimate revelation about all of the film’s events, makes it all, that much sadder. Don’t go into this film expecting boo scares or chicks in tight tank-tops, but do expect to be creeped out, do expect to be set inside an extreme situation in which you too must decide what is right and wrong, and do expect to be entertained, as the saying goes. I really loved this movie. An amazing achievement by a first-time director and the best film that I’ve seen so far this year.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian