Rating 4

Directed by Bill Paxton

Written by Brent Hanley

Starring Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Levi Kreis, Luke Askew, Melissa Crider and Derk Cheetwood

Bill Paxton plays the loving single father of two young boys. Their lives are turned upside down when he claims to have received a visitation from an Angel, who tells him the Apocalypse is coming and he has been chosen to do God’s work by killing demons that have taken on the appearance of humans. The story is told in a series of flashbacks when one of his sons, now an adult (played by Matthew McConaughey), goes into a local FBI office, claiming to know the identity of the so-called “God’s Hand” serial killer.

‘Frailty’ was the 2001 directorial debut of the actor Bill Paxton. An American Gothic, it bears comparison to the Sam Raimi film ‘The Gift’ and to the classic ‘Night Of The Hunter’, another directorial debut for an actor, in this case Charles Laughton. It also put me in mind of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

If not quite in the league of the extraordinary Charles Laughton film, this is still a very fine and worthy effort, a strange, sometimes creepy and often unsettling tale of madness and religious belief. Many “outdoor” scenes are clearly studio-bound, giving the film an old-fashioned feel that harks back to an earlier era. It also adds to the sense that we can never be quite sure what is real and what is imagined, and it makes us question what insanity actually means. The performances are excellent. I had almost forgotten how good Matthew McConaughey can be in the right role.

‘Frailty’ was released to generally very good reviews. It grossed $17 million worldwide against a production budget of $11 million. Paxton’s second film as a director, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’, was released in 2005.

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