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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 Brian McKay

"The Family that Prays Together Slays Together!"
1 stars

oh my God. Where do I begin with this botched abortion? This highly-lauded directorial debut of Bill Paxton is so grim, dim, and formulaic, that there is no room for any kind of visceral connection or genuine suspense. There is not one "twist" that I didn't see coming within the first 10 minutes of the film, or at least guess that something similar would take place. The saddest thing of all, besides my lost 2 hours and 9 dollars, was that I was hoping for so much better from Bill. Note to Mr. Paxton: From now on, stay in FRONT of the fucking camera.

I'm not kidding when I say that I pretty much prophesied every twist this film took early on. The only reason I stuck around was to see if I was right, and goddamn, they sure made me wait for my validation. And it's not that I'm some brilliant person who can analyze a film in the first five minutes and know what it's all about or how it will end. I never saw the end of "Sixth Sense" coming. But this movie is so painfully transparent that I was left with nothing to do but wait. Like Dennis Miller once said, "I see through these guys like used Neutrogena."

"Frailty" centers around a single-dad family in 1970's Texas. Paxton plays the dad, with two young sons. We are given no early indication that pops is a holy roller, yet suddenly he recieves a revelation from God in the guise of a glowing bowling trophy (I'm not making this up, folks). He quickly wakes his sons up to tell them that God has chosen them for a special mission - to kill demons. God will reveal special weapons to them to dispatch the evil ones, and will reveal a list of names to them in time.

Soon enough, dad starts kidnapping people off the street or out of their homes, and dragging them back to the cellar to administer God's punishment. The older boy is horrified, rebelling against his father and trying to foil his plans without becoming a victim himself. The younger son, however, blithely follows along and seems to have no problem when Father Dearest starts axeing for Jesus.

The story is mostly told in flashbacks, occasionally jumping forward again to have one of the sons, now grown up (Matthew McConaughey), retell it all to a skeptical FBI agent (Powers Boothe).

It is possible for a movie to have a predictable twist in the plot, and yet still be an enjoyable ride. This film plods along so conventionally, as if Paxton were using some connect-the-dots director's manual, that it never manages to build an iota of suspense. And while the idea of two kids being forced to watch their dad kill, and even participate in the killings themselves, is intelectually horrifying, the film never manages to convey that horror on a genuine gut level.

I like Paxton. I really do. Not because I think he's that great of an actor, but because he possesses a kind of quirky and likeable charisma that's fun to watch on the screen. But just because you're a competent character actor doesn't mean you're ready for the canvas chair and the bullhorn. However, I suspect that the screenplay itself was so dismal that even the most talented director could not have elevated it much beyond it's current state without a complete rewrite. It's really hard to take this seriously, especially when Paxton goes through his "Thar be demons out there, Son" speech for the fortieth time. I kept imagining his character Hudson from "Aliens" screaming "There's freakin' demons everywhere. Game over, man, game over!" and tried not to laugh. Also, it's hard to decide just what type of message, if any, is being sent here about religion and the ill effects it's misuse can have on "frail" minds.

I could watch "The Sixth Sense" or "Memento" for a third time, and still be more surprised by their endings than I was by this one. Not because I've forgotten those endings, but because with every new viewing I see clues that I missed before. But with Frailty, I have a feeling there will be no new ground to unearth, nor will I make the attempt. I'm done with this movie. I was done with it from the moment I started watching it. And God help us if Bill gets behind the camera again. You're an actor, man, so ACT!

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originally posted: 04/22/02 11:19:28
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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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