4.3 13

Cast: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary


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Actor Bill Paxton made his directorial debut with Frailty. The bulk of the story is told through flashbacks, as a mysterious man (Matthew McConaughey) tells a terrible tale to an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) investigating the "God's Hand" serial killer case. The man grew up in a small town in Texas, where he and his brother lived a bucolic life with theirSee more details below


Actor Bill Paxton made his directorial debut with Frailty. The bulk of the story is told through flashbacks, as a mysterious man (Matthew McConaughey) tells a terrible tale to an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) investigating the "God's Hand" serial killer case. The man grew up in a small town in Texas, where he and his brother lived a bucolic life with their kindhearted widower father (Paxton). One night, the father awakens the two boys, Fenton (Matthew O'Leary) and Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), and tells them he's had a vision, and God has chosen him and his sons to help Him slay demons who walk the earth in human form. He tells the boys they can never tell anyone about this task. Before long, he comes home from work with a list of names that he claims an angel has given to him. He then begins abducting people, bringing them home, one by one, and having the boys watch while he lays his hands on them. After having proven, to his mind, that they are demons and not human, he chops them up with an axe while the boys look on. Young Adam is eager to participate, seeing his family as "kind of like superheroes," while the older Fenton is distraught, believing that his father has lost his mind. He contemplates running away, but is reluctant to leave his little brother behind. Eventually, he goes to the authorities, which results in disaster. As he tells the story, McConaughey takes Boothe out to the public rose garden near his old home, where he claims his brother, the "God's Hand" killer, buried the bodies. Paxton dramatizes the mayhem while leaving almost all of the gore offscreen, and Brent Hanley's script leaves the true motives of several characters unclear until the very end.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
The lines between faith, zealotry, and insanity are blurred in Bill Paxton's directorial debut, a contemporary psychothriller with nods to Alfred Hitchcock. Paxton himself stars as a single father of two who claims to have orders from God to destroy demons on Earth. Unfortunately, the demons he sees seem to be real people, his weapon of choice is an axe, and he forces his two young sons to help him with his bloody mission. Paxton carries the film with the refined subtlety of a master sociopath -- he seems totally sane despite the absurdity of his dogma. Matthew McConaughey costars as one of the sons, who as an adult recounts the clan's disturbing deeds in flashbacks to FBI agent Powers Boothe. For a first-time director, Paxton frightens with finesse, acknowledging the tried-and-true tactics of Hitchcock, most notably when one of the boys is confined to a basement and suffers a Vertigo-esque freak-out sequence. But be not mistaken: Just when Frailty may start to seem too straightforward or derivative, the movie throws a creepy curve and spirals downward. Whether it spirals into insanity or into Hell is the question, one that is answered in the unnerving twist of an ending.
All Movie Guide - 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.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
Paxton's Dad may be the most terrifying father to appear in a horror film since Jack Nicholson went crazily homicidal in The Shining.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

Frailty is an extraordinary work, concealing in its depths not only unexpected story turns but also implications, hidden at first, that make it even deeper and more sad.
A resoundingly old-fashioned and well crafted study of evil infecting an American family, Frailty moves from strength to strength on its deceptive narrative course. Robert Koehler

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bill Paxton Dad
Matthew McConaughey Fenton Meiks
Powers Boothe Wesley Doyle
Matt O'Leary Young Fenton Meiks
Jeremy Sumpter Young Adam Meiks
Luke Askew Sheriff Smalls
Derk Cheetwood Agent Griffin Hull
Missy Crider Becky
Alan Davidson Brad White
Cynthia Ettinger Cynthia Harbridge
Vincent Chase Edward March
Gwen McGee Operator
Lance E. Nichols FBI Agent No. 4
Edgar Davis FBI Agent No. 2
Levi Kreis Fenton Meiks
Edmond Scott Ratliff The Angel
Rebecca Tilney Teacher
Blake King Eric
Brad Berryhill Teenage Demon
Greg Serano FBI Agent No. 1
Jim Flowers FBI Agent No. 3
John Paxton Janitor In Lobby
Richard A. Bell Curtis
Chelsea Blain Butler Little Girl
Jennifer Drake Teacher's Aid
Betty Gurule Doyle's Mother

Technical Credits
Bill Paxton Director
Mary Gail Artz Casting
David Blocker Producer
Lance Brown Sound/Sound Designer
Bill Butler Cinematographer
Nelson Coates Art Director
Barbara Cohen Casting
Kevin Jay Cozen Art Director
Randy Feemster Camera Operator
April Ferry Costumes/Costume Designer
Arnold Glassman Editor
Brent Hanley Screenwriter
Joel C. High Musical Direction/Supervision
Tom Huckabee Executive Producer
Eberhard Kayser Co-producer
David Kirschner Producer
Frederick Levy Associate Producer
Karen Loop Executive Producer
Mario Ohoven Co-producer
Michael Ohoven Co-producer
Tom Ortenberg Executive Producer
Michael Paseornek Executive Producer
Corey Sienega Producer
Gary R. Speckman Set Decoration/Design
Susumu Tokunow Sound Mixer
Brian Tyler Score Composer
Tim Walston Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Audio Commentaries with Director Bill Paxton and Writer Brent Hanley; ; Production Commentary with Arnold Glassman, David Kirschner and Brian Tyler; ; "Anatomy of a Scene" Featurette Courtesy of Sundance Channel; "The Making of Frailty" Featurette; Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary; Storyboards; Photo Gallery


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