Frailty (2001)

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Bill Paxton directs himself, Matthew McConaughey and Jeremy Sumpter in this gothic horror where a pair of boys have to decide whether their caring father has become a god sanctioned demon slayer or a lunatic serial killer.

So Bill Paxton died. Brilliant character actor, utterly cool dude and one of those faces that made little 10 year old me realise there was more to movies than the famous name at the top of the poster. He was foul mouthed Hudson, foul mouthed Severen, foul mouthed Jerry Lambert, foul mouthed Simon and loveable family man Bill Henrickson all at once. This movie though fits in with a series of underrated dramatic thrillers he starred in the 90s. It makes a perfect triple bill with the atmospheric One False Move and brilliant A Simple Plan as gripping small town crime stories which showcase a sensitive, unshowy but heartfelt rare lead turn from the cult actor. He is great here as a genuinely likeable man whose mental illness / mission from the angels puts his children in an increasingly violent and precarious pit. His direction is unmannered, yet he plays with dark and shadows better than any visualist I can think of, and all the actors, young and old, are given ample breathing space to shine and convince. Only the framing device and its expected for its time “twist” ending let the side down. When we are stuck exploring the dark upbringing these boys went through and their Dad’s struggle with his extreme faith, we are watching a great fucking movie.

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