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Frailty (2001)

Like father, like sons

Directed by:

Bill Paxton

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Bill Paxton plays 'Dad' Meiks, an ordinary car mechanic raising two small sons on his own since the death of his wife. The story itself is told from the perspective of his oldest son, Fenton (Matthew McConaughey). We first meet Fenton as an adult, turning himself in at FBI headquarters, claiming he knows the identity of the 'God's Hand Killer'. In order to convince Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) of the truth of his story, Fenton goes back to beginning and starts to explain about his father.

They had been a normal family until one night Meiks woke his sons to tell them he had seen a vision from God – and that the vision was telling him to be a demon hunter. Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) is immediately convinced, while young Fenton (Matt O'Leary) is not so sure. Their father sets out to obtain some divine weapons, while Fenton becomes increasingly concerned. Then his father appears with a list of names of demons God has told him to kill. To Fenton, they look like the names of people, and he fears his father is turning into a killer.

This is a fair thriller that doesn't depend on gore to produce its shocks. Matt O'Leary is great as the young Fenton, mystified by his father but not sure how to stop him. The film takes its time to explore the relationship between the father and his sons, which in many ways is more the main theme of the film than the killing. The twist in the tail is not entirely unexpected, given the large number of recent films that have used the device successfully, but it does at least offer more than one surprise.

It's Got: Qualities that turn it from a slasher film into a complex thriller.

It Needs: To be more convincing that Meaks was concealing his killing well enough to get away with it..

DVD Extras Nothing worth writing home about. Extras: Theatrical Trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10

Alternatives:

Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs

Summary

This is a competent thriller which manages to convey horror without a great deal of gore, and to explore its characters to a greater extent than is usual in the genre.

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