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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.67%
Just Average: 8%
Pretty Crappy: 9.33%
Sucks: 21.33%

8 reviews, 102 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Gimmicky, overpraised psychodrama."
2 stars

When mainstream critics rave about a horror movie, watch out. 'Frailty,' 2002's winner of the 'Blair Witch' Overpraised Indie Horror Award, has a few fine moments before turning gimmicky and twisty, but longtime horror fans won't find anything especially fresh in this humorless and derivative rural psychodrama.

The pain and terror of watching a beloved father go violently insane was handled far better in Stephen King's The Shining; religious mania was done brilliantly in The Rapture; a Texan family united by slaughter was perfected in ... well, you know. Frailty reminded me of Sam Raimi's two slowpoke rural thrillers, A Simple Plan and The Gift; admirers of those films may take the following with a grain of salt.

Making his directing debut, Bill Paxton has picked a script (by Brent Hanley) that offers him a plum role: a loving yet deranged dad. This means he gets to kill people with an ax and volunteer to help his eldest son with his math homework. (No, not simultaneously. Though if he did, this'd be more my kind of movie.) Paxton plays Dad (the credits provide no other name) as a decent, hard-workin' (an auto mechanic), God-fearin' son of Texas who receives a visit from an angel one night. The angel, clearly not of the soothing Roma Downey variety, has bad news for Dad: the end is near, demons walk among us, and they must be destroyed. In a later scene, Dad -- in the closest, probably inadvertently, this sober-sided movie ever comes to a laugh -- looks deep into the underside of a car and sees the angel pointing a flaming sword at him. "There's your trouble, ma'am," I imagine Dad telling the car's owner on Monday, "there's a demon in your carburetor. An angel pointed it out to me. We're gonna need to get a new part in for that."

Dad's sudden mission to go demon-busting distresses his elder boy, Fenton (Matthew O'Leary), who suspects that Dad's cheese has slid off his cracker; Fenton's younger brother Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) takes to the calling like a natural-born killer, sweetly and obsequiously enabling Dad's homicidal fantasies. There are two ways the script could've gone from here, both of them interesting. It could've stayed with the grim reality of living with a demon-slaying dad; or it could've literalized the conflict and had Dad's victims actually turn out to be demons -- I mean horned, Buffy the Vampire Slayer demons. The latter would've been cheeseball, but it might've been more fun than what we get. In a present-day framing sequence, we keep going back to the adult Fenton (Matthew McConaughey in one of his glowering, I'm-about-to-piss-a-fish-hook performances) trying to convince an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) that he knows who's been committing some recent murders dubbed the God's Hand killings. Gee, there are just so many people in this densely populated film the killer could be!

I was with Frailty as long as it promised to be an adult thriller tackling the always-intriguing topic of religious mania with some complexity. The script, though, abandons the complexity almost entirely. Dad's victims do turn out to be demons, of a sort -- one victim in particular is presumably a wife-beating lout -- so, hey, maybe Dad is doing God's work. The narrative leads to a twist, and then a twist in that twist, and Frailty just becomes another "clever" Chinese-box movie. There is the potential for greatness and true horror in this film, and that potential is dashed against such plot stupidities as a character being kept in solitude without food for over a week and miraculously not starving (did the angel sneak him Twinkies?), or the Dead Zone rip-off chintziness of Dad laying hands on his victims and then recoiling as he gets a peek at the past sins of the "demons."

'Frailty,' indeed, feels like 'Sling Blade' rewritten at a crawl by Stephen King, who is quoted gushingly in the movie's ads; did he actually enjoy this lukewarm reheating of his work, or did he just appreciate Bill Paxton and Brent Hanley's sincerest form of flattery?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5858&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/23/07 23:46:10
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User Comments

9/29/17 Langano A hidden gem. 4 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell some good twists the demons were real 3 stars
1/28/15 Simplefilmreviews Great horror Gem 5 stars
3/13/14 Phil M Afficionado Pretty hokey, and confusing to boot. Mot my thing when they play games with the viewer 2 stars
12/25/12 Ionicera disturbing look into a religious fundamentalist mindset 3 stars
6/24/11 Mfan I can't get past Bill Paxton's acting. Could've been a t 3 stars
12/28/09 Chad Dillon Cooper One of the best fims of the past two decades. 5 stars
8/20/09 Jeff Wilder Intriguing premise. Ending kind of flat 3 stars
7/20/09 Natalie SUCKED!!! 1 stars
1/19/09 Camilo Espinoza Great 5 stars
8/02/08 Doug Boring, uneventful, unoriginal, inconsequential 1 stars
8/22/07 ahnold Who possibly denigrates this movie? Well-acted and well written. might have to use ur brain 5 stars
1/27/07 mets1986 Unbelievably good horror flick.......... 5 stars
12/19/06 Kris D Amazing film. Obviously too intelligent for some people. 5 stars
10/16/06 AJ Muller Paxton makes a great movie - and a classic horror flick - his first time up. Bravo. 5 stars
8/20/06 Gene Pretty Good 4 stars
4/04/06 Steven murray Some peope think the demons were real but their dad was just looney tunes! and a drunk too 4 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Overrated. Paxton and Powers are great. Story is too pretentious. 2 stars
11/11/05 Dan Smith Great twists and turns, Congrats to Bill Paxton on his debut. 5 stars
10/06/05 Cacador Shit 1 stars
8/07/05 *Jena Marie* I liked it. There is to much crappy horror flicks out there. But I thought this was good. 4 stars
6/21/05 keith bill paxton is a terrible actor. and this movies plot is terrible also. 1 stars
6/11/05 Manu Ginobli kicks all kinds of ass. 5 stars
5/26/05 bob bad 1 stars
2/21/05 R.W. Welch Acting is O.K., but plot is too contrived for its own good. 3 stars
1/30/05 Abbath Very interesting, even if heavily flawed. Idea is interesting though. 4 stars
1/23/05 Phil M. Aficionado Good effort undermined by contrivances and plot holes; spare me the supernatural stuff. 3 stars
10/31/04 Monster W. Kung One of the worst movies ever made. 1 stars
10/07/04 jack springer dark, bruding....a craft so well done able to match carpenter-and even outdo him. must see! 5 stars
8/05/04 Ray~Ray Pretty good I thought. Guess I'm an idiot. 4 stars
7/21/04 magaafi woot! go bill &matt!! 5 stars
5/05/04 J.Peckerfoot Surprising. 3 stars
5/04/04 Echo Collin This is one of my least favorite movies of all time. Predictable, bad script, the works. 1 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Very underrated! 4 stars
12/21/03 Ravenheart I found this quite entertaining. 4 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess The best movie of 2002. 5 stars
10/23/03 Frostbite Falls Disturbing - Didn't like it at first, but couldn't stop watching 4 stars
10/22/03 chris spooky! 5 stars
10/19/03 Lord Chu Very, very good film. 5 stars
10/18/03 Monster W. Kung John Linton Roberson got it right. This is an abysmal movie without any intelligence. 1 stars
10/18/03 John Linton Roberson Total crap, professionally photographed. 1 stars
9/15/03 Charles Tatum Paxton's direction impresses 4 stars
8/06/03 Diego Sandoval I still keep thinking.... 2 days after watching the movies 5 stars
7/30/03 Nicole Found this movie very disturbing and revolting 2 stars
7/16/03 christien gagnier fantastic movie, whenever it is on cable I can't stop watching it 5 stars
5/24/03 Mihai the best movie this year..no doubt.. 5 stars
4/12/03 Dr. Zinn Very cool flick. Enjoyed every minute! 4 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby Ludicrous and banal. It looks good, but the story is distressingly dumb. 2 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Gotta love Paxton's "close to the vest" performance. Fun movie. 4 stars
3/22/03 LMAN1060 Great !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/16/03 Paul Coleman Much better than I thought it would be. 4 stars
1/23/03 venkman Deliciously disturbing... wonderfully directed. Paxton shines. 5 stars
1/19/03 KCobain Don't listen to the haters. This is intense and thrilling. 5 stars
1/16/03 Kathy Roper loved this movie 5 stars
1/12/03 othree good ole fashioned serial killer americana, solid 4 stars
12/22/02 E-Rock If there really was a God, he'd have prevented this stink bomb from reaching theaters... 1 stars
12/22/02 NoMargin Worst film I've seen this year 1 stars
12/15/02 Jim Thought-provoking mind fuck. YOU'RE not a demon, are you? 4 stars
12/15/02 Uter All too realistic depiction of intolerant fundamentalism taken to its logical extreme. 5 stars
11/26/02 Jarran Heywood Excellent film, original subject and well played out. 4 stars
10/15/02 Josh a terrific debut from Bill Paxton. A chilling piece of work. 5 stars
10/10/02 Stefany this film was thrilling, original, and powerful 5 stars
9/29/02 amandanine Did "Dad" get a hold of Santa's "naughty and nice" list? Stupid story. Predictable movie. 2 stars
9/23/02 PROFWOOD1 excellent & thought provoking. A real gothic gem 5 stars
8/24/02 Monster W. Kung Tiresome first part, absurd second part. Not vert good at all. 2 stars
8/15/02 alien Candace: that doesn't make it a bad movie. I waited too long to see this. 5 stars
8/10/02 Film Guy This is on of the top 3 best movies 5 stars
7/29/02 beany The best horror film in years 5 stars
7/12/02 Mr Math Candace: You're wrong. It implies he THINKS he was in the right. Solid flick. 4 stars
7/03/02 Kyle One of my all time favorites... 5 stars
6/17/02 Candace Troy Powers Didn't any mouth-foaming adorer catch on? It implies the brutal killer was in the right! 1 stars
6/13/02 Ashley Corpening What Scott Weinberg calls "surprised satisfaction" I'd call more like aghast dismay. 1 stars
5/14/02 Lexy Z I expected more than what I got. This creepy film was, like the reviewer said, flawed. 3 stars
5/12/02 Georgio The story is out of control. It makes it very frustrating. 3 stars
4/27/02 Ricky Wasn't very scary, but it was still a very good movie. 5 stars
4/27/02 Chuck&Fran Very Good Movie, but don't expect a horror movie in the traditional sense. All acting supu 4 stars
4/25/02 mohaamed what a great movie... it was so complete and fulfilling... and it was actually goddamn good 5 stars
4/24/02 Brian Kissinger A great film. Paxton did a great job both in front of and behind the camera. 5 stars
4/24/02 soulfood69 Provocative entry in the serial killer genre with a great ending 4 stars
4/23/02 LaTissa Miller I loved this movie. I left the theater wanting to see it again and Bill was awesome. 5 stars
4/22/02 Danielle Ophelia Ow! I'm so glad my friends talked me into seeing this with them. 5 stars
4/22/02 puckfreak Lame, boring, and pretty predictable. 2 stars
4/21/02 malcolm almost as disturbing as 'Natural Born Killers,' what film did Lucky watch? 4 stars
4/21/02 Romance Reader Daring and well-acted. Kudos to those kids! 5 stars
4/20/02 Film Dude Guess what, you can burn in hell Lucky! This was the best movie I've seen in years! 5 stars
4/20/02 Gibbo Wonderful - compelling drama - terrific ending. 5 stars
4/20/02 Film Guy This was a dark disturbing yet Excellent film 5 stars
4/20/02 ajay I haven't seen Bill Paxton this good since Aliens, "Game Over, Game Over!!" 4 stars
4/20/02 Nick2k saw it for the second time, and its still good baby! 5 stars
4/19/02 J Lefy me with some VERY mixed feelings, not the worst thriller. But not the best either. 3 stars
4/19/02 God Fucking fantastic film! I knew it would be great! 5 stars
4/19/02 Holly Hansen Lucky's right......IT SUCKS!!!! 1 stars
4/18/02 Styopa plodding, predictable, unscary. TOTALLY UNSUBTLE. 2 stars
4/18/02 epixsavior more of a high thought provoking drama with near brilliant story 5 stars
4/17/02 NoRefill Not disturbed. Interested and slightly intrigued, but not freaked out. 3 stars
4/16/02 gs44 LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY!!!!! 3 stars
4/15/02 gyro_44 Deeply disturbing; outstanding debut from Paxton 5 stars
4/14/02 Nathan First movie in years to freak me out 5 stars
4/14/02 Keith Very good horror film. 5 stars
4/14/02 Greyjack Very good, rock solid until the very end---pacing for the epilogue felt slightly off. 4 stars
4/13/02 JB I really didn't know. I even laughed at the trailers. Best of the year so far. 5 stars
4/13/02 Michaelb14 Disturbing on Several Levels 5 stars
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  12-Apr-2002 (R)



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