Trivia Back in the 80s, Bill Paxton was gloriously turned into a big slug monster thing by Kelly LeBrock. Serves him right for portraying a character named 'Chet'.
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1st Apr 04
This movie is essentially a flashback flick, much like, say, The Usual Suspects, which starts off in the office of the detective heading the investigation into the God Hand murders. These are a set of grisly and apparently unrelated murders driven by that forever unnerving ‘God made me do it’ ethos. They look to be unsolvable until Fenton Meeks, played with unexpected skill by Matthew McConaughey, turns up at a police station claiming to know who the killer is. What follows is an exchange between the lead detective, played by an aging Powers Boothe, and McConaughey, basically recounting the story of a twisted childhood. Fenton, it turns out, was a very ordinary boy having a very ordinary time until his life is turned upside down when his dad awakes him and his brother Adam one night to tell them he’s had a vision from God. Apparently, the world is full of demons. Apparently, God has chosen this typical Southern single parent all-American family to do God’s work and slay these demons. Unfortunately, these demons look suspiciously like normal human beings. Fenton is a clever young boy and quickly works out the horrible reality of what his father is suggesting. He doesn’t believe it at first, but when the murders start, he has to face up to the horrible truth that he’s the only one who knows what is going on and therefore the only one who can do anything about it. But, at the end of the day it is his father, who he loves dearly.
Good old Bill Paxton, I can honestly say I can’t remember a time when he turned in a bad performance. The first film I remember him in is Weird Science where he played Gary’s older brother, then Arnie nicked his clothes in Terminator, then he wrote himself into the history books as Hudson in Aliens. I wonder how many times people have shouted 'Game Over man!' at him in the street? I bet as many times as Bruce Campbell;s been asked to say 'Groovy!', eh? Well, since then he’s always been a bit of a hero of mine, whether he’s the sleazy car salesman of True lies or the rich bad guy in Vertical Limit, I'm always rooting for him.
Frailty, however, marks the directorial debut for the guy, and I have to be frank the line ‘directorial debut’ usually sends shivers down my spine. But Hudson, um - sorry, Paxton has had the chance in recent years to work with some of the best directors in Hollywood (namely Raimi in A Simple Plan and Cameron in, oooh, loads of stuff). As a result, Frailty turned out to be one the best films I'd seen in a while.
Filmed from the perspective of the young Fenton, this is down right frightening. How would you cope with that? Your dad is seeing signs and from them ‘deciphering’ names, then hitting the phone book with only one thing in mind. I don’t know what I’d do and neither did the audience I wathced this little gem with, who were silently gripped. Paxton effortlessly held us at the edge of our seats for the duration, putting us right in the center of a terrible scenario of religious madness and fanatical murder. The number of times you squirm is pretty high, brilliant considering that the film really isn’t all that gory and plays for most of it’s shocks with simple plot twists and evil suggestion. It builds to a staggering finale, which ties up all the loose ends beautifully, although admittedly it is a bit predictable. In fact, whereas I was so caught up in the film that I really liked the twist at the end, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people out there who won’t and will argue that doing the formulaic Hollywood twist stylee ending thing is a real cop out. They may be right, but I liked the rest of the film so much I’m prepared to roll with it and so should you.
Rarely is the ‘behind closed doors’ aspect of the bible bashing belt of the Deep South exploited so well and this is how thrillers should be made. I recommend that you see it as soon as you can.
Oh, and I also recommend you be good for goodness sake. When you’ve seen this picture, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
Versions All DVD versions around the world are widescreen and uncut, but the R1 disc predictably has a whole host of features that the R2 crowd has to live without...