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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 EricDSnider

"This is one F'd up movie."
4 stars

“Frailty” is a disturbing and deeply flawed movie that, despite its faults, I cannot stop thinking about. It gets by on the power of its ideas, rather than on their often-weak execution. Those ideas, though, are enough to keep you creeped out for a month.

“Frailty” begins in the Dallas FBI office, where a man identifying himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) tells Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) that he knows the identity of a serial killer responsible for six murders: It is his brother, Adam (Levi Kreis).

Fenton tells Doyle the story, which we see in flashback. When Fenton and Adam were young, their father (Bill Paxton, who also directed) claimed to have visions from God instructing him to find certain “demons” -- who look like regular people to you and me -- and “destroy” them -- which looks like killing them with an ax to you and me. God gave him a list of names, and Dad began his righteous work. He involved his sons in every aspect of it, encouraging them to have the necessary faith to see the same visions he had.

Young Fenton (Matt O’Leary) believes his father is insane, but lacks the gumption to turn him in. Aside from the killing, he’s a good father, and who’s to say God ISN’T speaking to him? Young Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), meanwhile, is wide-eyed and faithful, and is only disappointed at not being privy to the same sort of manifestations as his father. Now, it would seem, he is continuing Dad’s life’s work.

Hearing it described, or even reading some of the script, you could mistake this for a dark comedy. The ideas are that extreme. But it is deathly serious work, and it’s an impressive directorial debut for the actor Bill Paxton. The atmosphere is creepy and horrific, and the idea of children being witness to such dreadful murders will stick with you long after the film is over.

But what does it add up to? Religious fervor can cause people to do unbelievable things, yes, but that idea is not developed beyond the summary I just gave you. The script, by first-time writer Brent Hanley, stumbles in the final act -- in real life, cops always call for back-up -- and the twists become easy to predict. One of those turns is an outright cheat, as we learn a character has lied only to mess with OUR minds, and not the mind of the person he lied to. Movie characters shouldn’t do things for the audience’s benefit; they should do them because they are appropriate for the fictional situation they are in.

Mr. Meiks says that when he touches the demons, he can see their sins. This concept was just used in 2000’s “Unbreakable,” which I’m hesitant to complain about -- except that “Frailty” uses a surprise twist that is almost identical to the one in that film. (It was more believable in “Unbreakable,” by the way; in “Frailty,” it is awkwardy set up and badly realized.)

So there are problems with the movie ... and yet, here I am, continuing to think deeply about it. Its method of storytelling is so straightforward, so awash with campfire-story eeriness, that it comes across as far less outrageous than it should. You believe what’s going on, even as you’re shaking your head in disbelief that a movie is actually daring enough to suggest such a thing. It may take a second viewing to fully appreciate the not-just-a-horror-flick subtleties of it -- but who really wants another run-through of kids learning how to murder at their father’s knee?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5858&reviewer=247
originally posted: 04/16/02 16:22:44
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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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