Frailty (2001)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Apr 12, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Germany , Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

Directors Sam Raimi and James Cameron and author Stephen King have praised Bill Paxton's directorial debut, Frailty, as an original and genuinely frightening film, but while the film has an intriguing premise, it doesn't quite fulfill its promise. Frailty builds fairly well, and then seemingly doesn't know where to go. At the end, there are the requisite twists you won't see coming, of the type that have plagued thrillers since The Sixth Sense. Paxton, star of such great films as Aliens (directed by Cameron) and A Simple Plan (directed by Raimi), overplays his redneck zealotry a bit. He's surprisingly the weak link in a competent cast. Matthew McConaughey strikes just the right haunted note, and the two child actors, Matt O'Leary and Jeremy Sumpter, faced with extremely challenging (if not downright impossible) roles, acquit themselves admirably. Paxton does a more impressive job behind the camera, as he and veteran director of photography Bill Butler (DP on The Conversation, Jaws, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) give the film a classic look. Novice screenwriter Brent Hanley has cited Night of the Hunter as an inspiration, and while Frailty doesn't approach that film's power, for a good portion of its running time, it chillingly examines the conflicts of a child whose father has apparently slipped into madness. Paxton accomplishes this without resorting to gore or cheap scares, but the film's achievements are severely undercut by its unconvincing resolution.