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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.67%
Average: 8%
Pretty Bad: 9.33%
Total Crap: 21.33%

8 reviews, 102 user ratings

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by John Linton Roberson

"Frailty, thy name is screenwriter."
1 stars

This is a movie that deserves to be spoiled, so satisfied it appears to be with its clever twist ending. If you actually want to waste your time finding out for yourself, don't read this review. For everyone else: I sat through it so you don't have to, and I intend to ruin it and give you a couple of extra hours on your life.

The horror genre is pretty much dead these days and it rather pisses me off. Worse, I'm so hungry for even one that's the equal of the great post-Romero horror of the 70s I'll rent something like this out of desperation, but I was very sorry I had.

This is the plot, twist ending included. I don't feel bad spoiling it because, frankly, a twist ending--and for that matter, a plot-- where both yourself and the person watching with you simultaneously see coming at every point about ten minutes or more in advance, is hardly a twist at all. Whether you decide to watch it or not, either way don't tell me I didn't warn ya.

A young, kind of weird-looking and painfully earnest man calling himself Fenton comes to an FBI agent(who as it turns out became an agent because someone, never caught, killed his mother)'s office to tell him that his younger brother is the "God's Hand" killer, apparently having murdered a very large amount of people for a long time. This began, he tells the agent, when his widowed mechanic--and apparently perfectly nice, the one time you see him before his "vision"--father believed he'd received a vision from God telling him to go about destroying demons who are in human guise with an axe called "Otis", and to have his two young sons help him. Fenton is, to say the least, skeptical, while Todd Flanders--I'm sorry, I mean Adam--on the other hand completely believes his dad.

Soon, as the father is working under a car, a badly CGIed angel appears underneath and sends a burst of flame from a sword at his head. Now most mechanics would recognize angels with flaming swords as severe hazards underneath a gas tank. But Dad here simply comes out from under and happily writes a list of names of demons who look like people he should kill(Adam tries to be helpful and provides a list of his own, which starts with a school bully he dislikes. His father dismisses his list and gives him a lecture on how it's wrong to kill people), and begins his mission with some woman he's never seen before. He wears gloves till just before he kills them. When he takes them off and touches them, he claims he can see their actual demon selves, and all their sins. Their second victim, for instance, he claims is a child-killer.

Fenton sees no such thing, and calls his dad a killer, a natural reaction to watching your father chop someone to pieces(but I should point out that at no point in this film do you even see this occur onscreen, a fact that in this case softens any impact the murders could have on you). He threatens to tell, and his father says that if he does, someone will die. Upon the next killing, he tries to get the sheriff next door(who apparently has never noticed any odd goings-on) to arrest his dad. Here's where a movie that so far was showing at least a little "B" potential starts to become incredibly stupid. The sheriff thinks Fenton made it up, and takes him back to his dad's house. Fenton insists the sheriff take him out to the shed, where his dad performs the killings. When they go in, of course there's nothing. (Odd that it wouldn't even smell, but apparently it doesn't) At this point, however, his dad kills the sheriff with an axe--to protect the "mission"--and tells Fenton this was his fault.

Okay, so we're supposed to believe the sheriff simply disappeared--keeping in mind the sheriff drove over to and parked on Dad's property--and nobody noticed? Nobody even thought to investigate? Apparently we are. In any case no explanation is given to fill in this inconsistency. That's one hell of a police department they must have. "Well, one day the sheriff just disappeared. Damndest thing."

Later Dad decides Fenton is a demon and locks him in the "dungeon" part of the basement for a week till he receives a vision of God. On the next killing, again, surprise surprise, he is made to do the chopping, but instead kills Dad with the axe. The blade appears to go in just about far enough to break the skin; nevertheless this girly swing by an 11-year-old manages to kill Dad. At which point little Adam finishes the job on the victim.

Fenton guides the FBI agent to the old property, claiming he's leading them to Adam, who has continued his father's mission, and then reveals--SHOCK OF SHOCKS!--he's really Adam and brought the FBI agent out there because he showed up on the latest list. He touches the agent and gets a vision that the agent killed his own mom, and best of all, the agent then says, "how did you know?" Get it? Adam saw the same thing his dad saw all along--and it really was{/i] God making him do it. God also fuzzes the video of Adam in the FBI building and other stuff to protect him. Naturally he manages to pin all the killings on the real Fenton, whom of course he has killed, but there's a lot of confusion in this over-explained, convoluted "trick" ending as to whether Adam has been the only one continuing the mission or if Fenton has been doing it too, since we see Fenton's apartment which is full of obsessive photos and other stuff that is the usual movie shorthand for "serial killer."

And then the best part: It's revealed that Adam is the sheriff as well now! Never mind that we lost any suspension of disbelief about an hour ago when we saw this coming.

By now I do hope I've completely killed any desire you might have to see this stupid film. If so, believe me, I have done you a favor.

Ever since "The Usual Suspects" indie filmmakers bend over backwards to do a twist ending, and this is the nadir of the trend. At the end of this film I wanted an axe and five minutes alone with the screenwriter. This has been called by some a clever script. No, it just follows what appears by now to be a formula.

I'm sick too of nice, pretty, glossy horror films like this that have no conviction. I'm not a gore fan, but seems to me there's got to be something wrong with a movie about an axe murderer where there's barely any blood, and when there is you can't help saying how ridiculous it looks. Force one of these guys to work with a low budget and the camera that Tobe Hooper used in TEXAS CHAINSAW: then they might actually remember you go to a horror film to be disturbed, not irritated.

And it isn't even funny to eviscerate it. But that dad has his mission from God; this was mine.

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originally posted: 10/18/03 15:17:43
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User Comments

9/30/17 Langano A hidden gem. 4 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell some good twists the demons were real 3 stars
1/29/15 Simplefilmreviews Great horror Gem 5 stars
3/13/14 Phil M Afficionado Pretty hokey, and confusing to boot. Mot my thing when they play games with the viewer 2 stars
12/26/12 Ionicera disturbing look into a religious fundamentalist mindset 3 stars
6/24/11 Mfan I can't get past Bill Paxton's acting. Could've been a t 3 stars
12/29/09 Chad Dillon Cooper One of the best fims of the past two decades. 5 stars
8/21/09 Jeff Wilder Intriguing premise. Ending kind of flat 3 stars
7/20/09 Natalie SUCKED!!! 1 stars
1/20/09 Camilo Espinoza Great 5 stars
8/03/08 Doug Boring, uneventful, unoriginal, inconsequential 1 stars
8/23/07 ahnold Who possibly denigrates this movie? Well-acted and well written. might have to use ur brain 5 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 Unbelievably good horror flick.......... 5 stars
12/19/06 Kris D Amazing film. Obviously too intelligent for some people. 5 stars
10/17/06 AJ Muller Paxton makes a great movie - and a classic horror flick - his first time up. Bravo. 5 stars
8/21/06 Gene Pretty Good 4 stars
4/05/06 Steven murray Some peope think the demons were real but their dad was just looney tunes! and a drunk too 4 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Overrated. Paxton and Powers are great. Story is too pretentious. 2 stars
11/11/05 Dan Smith Great twists and turns, Congrats to Bill Paxton on his debut. 5 stars
10/07/05 Cacador Shit 1 stars
8/08/05 *Jena Marie* I liked it. There is to much crappy horror flicks out there. But I thought this was good. 4 stars
6/22/05 keith bill paxton is a terrible actor. and this movies plot is terrible also. 1 stars
6/12/05 Manu Ginobli kicks all kinds of ass. 5 stars
5/27/05 bob bad 1 stars
2/22/05 R.W. Welch Acting is O.K., but plot is too contrived for its own good. 3 stars
1/31/05 Abbath Very interesting, even if heavily flawed. Idea is interesting though. 4 stars
1/23/05 Phil M. Aficionado Good effort undermined by contrivances and plot holes; spare me the supernatural stuff. 3 stars
10/31/04 Monster W. Kung One of the worst movies ever made. 1 stars
10/08/04 jack springer dark, bruding....a craft so well done able to match carpenter-and even outdo him. must see! 5 stars
8/05/04 Ray~Ray Pretty good I thought. Guess I'm an idiot. 4 stars
7/21/04 magaafi woot! go bill &matt!! 5 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot Surprising. 3 stars
5/05/04 Echo Collin This is one of my least favorite movies of all time. Predictable, bad script, the works. 1 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Very underrated! 4 stars
12/22/03 Ravenheart I found this quite entertaining. 4 stars
11/03/03 American Slasher Goddess The best movie of 2002. 5 stars
10/23/03 Frostbite Falls Disturbing - Didn't like it at first, but couldn't stop watching 4 stars
10/23/03 chris spooky! 5 stars
10/19/03 Lord Chu Very, very good film. 5 stars
10/19/03 Monster W. Kung John Linton Roberson got it right. This is an abysmal movie without any intelligence. 1 stars
10/18/03 John Linton Roberson Total crap, professionally photographed. 1 stars
9/16/03 Charles Tatum Paxton's direction impresses 4 stars
8/07/03 Diego Sandoval I still keep thinking.... 2 days after watching the movies 5 stars
7/31/03 Nicole Found this movie very disturbing and revolting 2 stars
7/16/03 christien gagnier fantastic movie, whenever it is on cable I can't stop watching it 5 stars
5/24/03 Mihai the best movie this doubt.. 5 stars
4/13/03 Dr. Zinn Very cool flick. Enjoyed every minute! 4 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Ludicrous and banal. It looks good, but the story is distressingly dumb. 2 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Gotta love Paxton's "close to the vest" performance. Fun movie. 4 stars
3/23/03 LMAN1060 Great !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/17/03 Paul Coleman Much better than I thought it would be. 4 stars
1/24/03 venkman Deliciously disturbing... wonderfully directed. Paxton shines. 5 stars
1/20/03 KCobain Don't listen to the haters. This is intense and thrilling. 5 stars
1/17/03 Kathy Roper loved this movie 5 stars
1/12/03 othree good ole fashioned serial killer americana, solid 4 stars
12/23/02 E-Rock If there really was a God, he'd have prevented this stink bomb from reaching theaters... 1 stars
12/23/02 NoMargin Worst film I've seen this year 1 stars
12/16/02 Jim Thought-provoking mind fuck. YOU'RE not a demon, are you? 4 stars
12/15/02 Uter All too realistic depiction of intolerant fundamentalism taken to its logical extreme. 5 stars
11/26/02 Jarran Heywood Excellent film, original subject and well played out. 4 stars
10/15/02 Josh a terrific debut from Bill Paxton. A chilling piece of work. 5 stars
10/11/02 Stefany this film was thrilling, original, and powerful 5 stars
9/30/02 amandanine Did "Dad" get a hold of Santa's "naughty and nice" list? Stupid story. Predictable movie. 2 stars
9/24/02 PROFWOOD1 excellent & thought provoking. A real gothic gem 5 stars
8/25/02 Monster W. Kung Tiresome first part, absurd second part. Not vert good at all. 2 stars
8/16/02 alien Candace: that doesn't make it a bad movie. I waited too long to see this. 5 stars
8/11/02 Film Guy This is on of the top 3 best movies 5 stars
7/30/02 beany The best horror film in years 5 stars
7/12/02 Mr Math Candace: You're wrong. It implies he THINKS he was in the right. Solid flick. 4 stars
7/04/02 Kyle One of my all time favorites... 5 stars
6/18/02 Candace Troy Powers Didn't any mouth-foaming adorer catch on? It implies the brutal killer was in the right! 1 stars
6/14/02 Ashley Corpening What Scott Weinberg calls "surprised satisfaction" I'd call more like aghast dismay. 1 stars
5/15/02 Lexy Z I expected more than what I got. This creepy film was, like the reviewer said, flawed. 3 stars
5/13/02 Georgio The story is out of control. It makes it very frustrating. 3 stars
4/28/02 Ricky Wasn't very scary, but it was still a very good movie. 5 stars
4/27/02 Chuck&Fran Very Good Movie, but don't expect a horror movie in the traditional sense. All acting supu 4 stars
4/26/02 mohaamed what a great movie... it was so complete and fulfilling... and it was actually goddamn good 5 stars
4/25/02 Brian Kissinger A great film. Paxton did a great job both in front of and behind the camera. 5 stars
4/25/02 soulfood69 Provocative entry in the serial killer genre with a great ending 4 stars
4/24/02 LaTissa Miller I loved this movie. I left the theater wanting to see it again and Bill was awesome. 5 stars
4/23/02 Danielle Ophelia Ow! I'm so glad my friends talked me into seeing this with them. 5 stars
4/22/02 puckfreak Lame, boring, and pretty predictable. 2 stars
4/22/02 malcolm almost as disturbing as 'Natural Born Killers,' what film did Lucky watch? 4 stars
4/21/02 Romance Reader Daring and well-acted. Kudos to those kids! 5 stars
4/21/02 Film Dude Guess what, you can burn in hell Lucky! This was the best movie I've seen in years! 5 stars
4/21/02 Gibbo Wonderful - compelling drama - terrific ending. 5 stars
4/21/02 Film Guy This was a dark disturbing yet Excellent film 5 stars
4/21/02 ajay I haven't seen Bill Paxton this good since Aliens, "Game Over, Game Over!!" 4 stars
4/20/02 Nick2k saw it for the second time, and its still good baby! 5 stars
4/20/02 J Lefy me with some VERY mixed feelings, not the worst thriller. But not the best either. 3 stars
4/20/02 God Fucking fantastic film! I knew it would be great! 5 stars
4/20/02 Holly Hansen Lucky's right......IT SUCKS!!!! 1 stars
4/19/02 Styopa plodding, predictable, unscary. TOTALLY UNSUBTLE. 2 stars
4/18/02 epixsavior more of a high thought provoking drama with near brilliant story 5 stars
4/18/02 NoRefill Not disturbed. Interested and slightly intrigued, but not freaked out. 3 stars
4/17/02 gs44 LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY!!!!! 3 stars
4/16/02 gyro_44 Deeply disturbing; outstanding debut from Paxton 5 stars
4/15/02 Nathan First movie in years to freak me out 5 stars
4/14/02 Keith Very good horror film. 5 stars
4/14/02 Greyjack Very good, rock solid until the very end---pacing for the epilogue felt slightly off. 4 stars
4/13/02 JB I really didn't know. I even laughed at the trailers. Best of the year so far. 5 stars
4/13/02 Michaelb14 Disturbing on Several Levels 5 stars
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  12-Apr-2002 (R)



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