Monday, November 25, 2013

Frailty (2001)

FrailtyYes! Finally, it is here on DVD! I could not wait to purchase it!

"Frailty" is a dark and terrifying film that surprised me so many times. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, the next scene would prove me wrong. The complexity and creativeness that went into this film is so mind-blowing. It takes risks, and forces us to ask questions that are better left unanswered.

A series of murders has been contaminating a small town. The case is known as the "God's Hand". The movie starts with McConaughey entering the FBI station, claiming that he knows who the "God's Hand" killer is. With this, he tells his story and we witness shocking flashbacks to when he was a kid.

Paxton, who is also the director, stars as a very religious and loving father. His two sons, (remember, this is all McConaughey's story, so this entire part is the flashback) mean all the world to him. Everything seems perfect, until Paxton awakes his sons, telling him that an angel visited him at night, telling him that there were demons lurking around and they took the form of human-beings. He instructs his sons that they must "destroy" them. (Meaning, "killing.") The oldest son thinks his father has lost it, but he has no idea how far things are about to go. I cannot tell you anymore, otherwise it'll ruin the movie for you. Know this, however, you will be shocked, and you will feel disturbed when it is all said and done.

Bill Paxton does an outstanding job as a first time director. This is the type of movie that really requires talent from famous and acclaimed directors, but Paxton proves to us that not only can he act, but he can direct. Every shot in the movie is very well planned and laid out. He also proves exactly what kinds of emotions he wants his actors to show us. That task, I'm sure, is not a very easy one. The acting was really impressive, and must've been quite a chore to accomplish in this type of film. It is the direction and the acting that makes this movie so unique and chilling.

Yes, this film is very disturbing and very violent. Not in graphic detail; there's hardly any blood or gore. It's just the overall idea and the way the "destruction of the demons" are presented to us. Be warned; this is not for people with weak hearts or stomaches.

This movie still shocked and frightened me, even seeing it for the second time. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I still felt very uneasy and disturbed, as if I were just experiencing it for the first time.

Now, on to the DVD. For it being an independent film, it has some pretty neat features, including commentary, a making of feature, theatrical trailer, and more. The picture and sound quality was also very good.

This movie isn't for everybody, especially if you are the really religous type who get offended easily. This movie IS NOT FOR YOU! Don't even attempt it! If you can handle dark and terrifying thrillers, than chances are you will enjoy this film. All in all, "Frailty" is gut-wrenching, dark and twisted thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. And even after it's all over, this movie will still be on your mind.

Want to try something fun? Watch this movie really LATE. Right before bedtime. See if you can get a goodnight's sleep after that.

Those who happen to catch "Frailty" in theaters will no doubt be reminded of the defense case of convicted murderer Andrea Yates, who took the life of her five young children in what was described by her lawyers and supporters as her attempt to save them from the hellfire. The case was thought-provoking, and a cause for controversy that forced the public to ask themselves, "What defines insanity, and furthermore, sanity?"

The psychological elements of "Frailty" work in very much the same manner, posing us that question in a forthright manner that is shocking, brutal, and completely immersive. It possesses a brainy, intricate plot, well-drawn character relationships, and an ending that begs its audience to begin arguing.

The movie begins with a meeting, of sorts, between FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe), and Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey), who claims to have information about the identity of the God's Hand killer, the case Doyle presides over. There are some initial revelations that are placed on the table upfront, one of which is Fenton's statement that his brother, Adam, is the killer; Doyle is disbelieving, but intrigued enough to listen to what Fenton has to say.

Fenton jumps back in time to his childhood, revealing the relationship between he, Adam, and their father, played by Bill Paxton who is known throughout the film as "Dad." We see them as a family, tightly knit as a result of their mother's death, made stronger by their dependence on one another. The film makes it clear that Paxton's character is a devoted father, loving of his children, and willing to do anything to protect them. His children, in turn, mirror these qualities.

One night, things change. The father wakes his children up in the middle of the night to tell them of a vision from an angel, who spoke to him about his role as God's servant in destroying demons who walk the earth in human form. He claims that when he places his hands upon the person, he can reveal them for who they really are. He further informs them that he will be receiving weapons and a list of those to be destroyed. In any other movie, the father would be an abusive wretch bent on exacting bloody justice; the fact that he is a loving and caring father makes this new development all the more unsettling.

The younger, impressionable son, Adam, willingly accepts his father's statement (in one moment, he asks his father, "Are we going to be superheroes?"). Fenton, on the other hand, believes it is all a bad dream, until his father brings home a young woman in the middle of the night, carries her into their shed, and takes an axe to her. Such scenes are handled exquisitely, choosing to keep the gore almost non-existent, thereby increasing the shock factor. The presence of the children in the midst of such violence is brutal, a testament to the film's honest approach.

The way in which Paxton carries out these events, both as an actor and as a director, is spellbinding. In front of the camera, he portrays the father with a believable conviction of his faith, matching the religious fanaticism and lunacy of Piper Laurie's Mrs. White in "Carrie." In the director's chair, he handles the material nicely, balancing the supreme chills with the ongoing argument of divine intervention that remains intact and fruitful. The two story lines, past and present, weave into one another fluidly without losing interest, and McConaughey provides his character with a tidal wave of mystery that keeps us waiting for the final resolution.

Without revealing the major twists, the film's ending is that rare gem that works with and against it. There are revelations aplenty, those that work, and those that do and don't simultaneously. The negation of the film's earlier neutrality in concern to the father's carryings-on is slightly disappointing; this choosing of sides and a murky role reversal don't altogether work in the material's favor, but they do, however, provide a nice surprise twist that casts predictability and convention into the wind.

And even now, thinking about the ending, I'm reminded of how the film challenged me to think, of how it worked me in ways many other films fail to. Bill Paxton's career as an actor shines here, and his start as a director is promising. "Frailty" is a special film, a thoughtful, quiet thriller with enough brains, realistic chills, and effective energy to make up for its few, easily forgiveable flaws.

Buy Frailty (2001) Now

This film is a great respite from the usual characature of the insane axe-wielding human (in this case The God's Hand Serial Killer)and takes us through a more spiritual journey.

After being visited by an angel and given three special weapons by God, himself Bill Paxton and his two sons are drafted in God's Army. Bill has been given a list of "demons" by an angel and instructed to destroy them, with explicit details on how to accomplish the destroying and burying of the corpses. A waitress, a young man, and an elderly gentleman are just a couple of the demons on the list.

One by one, Bill lays his bare hands on the demons/people before chopping them up with an axe named Otis, and he can "SEE" what evil they have done. Or so he says...

This film has lots of surprises, twists and turns, a ton of biblical prophesying along with the psychological/brainwashing aspects of the story. PLUS Of course a GREAT ENDING!

Bill Paxton directed this sleeper and the two boys that play the younger, Fenton & Adam are great little actors. A nice bit part by Powers Boothe also... The DVD has lots of extras including some great deleted scenes. Highly recommended!

Read Best Reviews of Frailty (2001) Here

Frailty is the first movie that I've seen since Seven that I've left the movie theatre with a deeply affected air. This movie is not a traditional screamer that freaks you out. It is more in the vein of a Poe short story or even one of King's darkest novels. It follows the story of Finton Meeks a man who apparently knows who the hand of god killer is and wants to tell a Sheriff at the F.B.I. headquarters in Dallas, Texas. As he unfolds his story it becomes more apparent that he is telling the truth but also that he is hiding something. The ending is absolutely brilliant. This movie is so good that it will actually blur the lines between good and evil and what is real and unreal. All the actors gave great performances especially the boy who played Finton Meeks as a young person. Also Bill Paxton did an excellent job with directing the film. This is a classic horror movie that is on the same level as "The Shining" and "Pet Semetary." This movie is not recommended to those who can not stand disturbing movies with Religious themes. But it's a great horror film that is reccommended to all other adults.

Want Frailty (2001) Discount?

When was the last time you went to see a movie that made you think, one that stayed with you after you left the theater? Well, Bill Paxton's FRAILTY is such a film and if you like thrillers that are weightier than your average Hollywood fare, there's a lot to recommend it besides its depth of thought.

FRAILTY is a movie about a serial killer (God's Hands) and a man (played by Matthew McConaughy) who claims to know the killer's true identity. Most of the film is told in flashbacks while McConaughy tells his story to FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe), recalling how his father (Bill Paxton) indoctrinated his brother and himself into his bizarre beliefs.

One of the things that first time director Paxton does brilliantly in this film is that he is very careful about the way he depicts violence. There are more than enough opportunities to send even the sturdiest filmgoer screaming from the theater in disgust, but Paxton downplays the visual side of the violence in all but a couple of instances, focusing instead on the reactions of the characters to the murders. Paxton chooses not to go for the cheap "gross-out", opting instead to disturb us on a far more subtle level.

And, to talk about the subtleties of the film, you have to deal with the performances. Paxton, McConaughy and Boothe may be the "stars" of the film, but the film's best (and most disturbing) performances come from the kids. Paxton manages to coax performances from child actors Matthew O'Leary and Jeremy Sumpter that are not only heart-wrenching, but totally believable, a job that is worthy of praise from any director. The boys' characters never seem forced and their reactions to the horrors they are presented with are very different...and very telling.

Another of the "firsts" in this film, aside from Paxton's directorial debut, is a screenplay from Brent Hanley, who gives us a screenplay with as many twists and turns as a good Texas back-country road, which also happens to be where Hanley sets his story. Going into the film, this was an aspect of FRAILTY that I was very interested in. Since Paxton, McConaughy and Boothe are all three Texans, I was curious as to how the Lone Star state would be depicted. Later I was disappointed to find out that the entire movie was shot on location in California, but many of the scenes in the movie look a lot like what you might really find in Texas. If you were to squint really hard, that is.

But when all is said and done, what matters most is that FRAILTY leaves you thinking about some important questions and the fact that it doesn't give any easy answers. In fact, some of the questions are deliberately (or so I suppose) left hanging, making this a film that will stick with audiences a long time after the lights have come up.

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