Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

One of those self important little Hollywoodesque projects which confuses darkness of story with darkness of screen until one can no longer be sure what's going on with either, Frailty no doubt thinks itself very clever; one can indeed see the bones here of a much more powerful story than the one which actually emerges. A classic gothic tale about a man who apparently goes mad and starts killing people in God's name because he thinks they're demons, developing to encompass the effect which this has on his sons, it's one of those pieces which relies on the horror of predictability, but in this case that predictability is extended to the point where the plot's special twists are transparent from the start and the only real mystery hinges on underdeveloped subplots where scenes would appear to have been hacked away by uncomprehending editors.

This is not to say that there is nothing worth watching here. The two young boys involved give impressive, solid performances. Perhaps they have less difficulty finding faith in the script than do their adult counterparts. The easiest way to identify the director (since he's clearly learned nothing from the capable folk with whom he's worked in the past) is to observe that, in this case, his character suffers and dies far less horribly than is the case in most of his movies. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Matthew McConnaughy turns in a performance so centered and dry that it's hard to feel any sympathy for him at all, a crucial mistake. In this way, the story becomes far too one sided. Moral judgements are handed out willy-nilly, but no-one ever examines the vital question: what if the 'madman' is right, and these really are terrible people - does that justify what he does? It's a naive attempt at manipulating ethical issues which the scriptwriters just don't seem to have understood. Which is a shame, because there's so much fascinating potential here. A run of the mill overblown horror movie which ought to have been modest, neat, and genuinely terrifying.

Copy picture Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007
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Bill Paxton’s kids think he’s gone nutzo in religious thriller about a serial axe murderer.
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Read more Frailty reviews:

Gator MacReady ****1/2

Director: Bill Paxton

Writer: Brent Hanley

Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matthew O'Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Luke Askew

Year: 2001

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


EIFF 2002

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