I’m not generally a fan of horror movies, but since Frailty is more of a suspense-thriller, and I remembered loving it when it was first released on DVD years ago, I jumped at the chance to review the Blu-ray release. After not having seen it in years, it’s even better than I remembered.
Frailty follows Matthew McConaughey’s character as he pays a visit to the local FBI office to confess to agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) that his father was responsible for the “God’s Hands” murders that took place back in the late ‘70s, and that his brother was an accomplice. As he tells Doyle the story, we’re treated to flashbacks of the days when “Dad” Meiks (Bill Paxton) and his two sons were scouting out and murdering supposed demons.
Dad, believing that God wants him to murder demons disguised as humans, guides his two young sons in the quest to find each new person on his “list” and kill them with an axe. While Adam, the younger son, is eager to help out his dad with demon-killing, Fenton, the slightly older son, thinks his father is a crazy murderer.
As I said earlier, I remembered loving this movie when I first saw it, but having not seen it since it was first released on DVD, there wasn’t much I remembered about some of the bigger plot-points in the film, and I wondered if the movie was going to live up to my original impression of it. I’m glad to report that it did. In fact, Frailty is a film that only seems to get better with repeat viewings.
McConaughey does an excellent job with his role, shedding some of that charm we see from him when he plays the romantic lead in other films and delivering a creepier performance than is typical for him. Paxton, who also directed the film, portrays “Dad” extremely well and, like the film itself, I found myself appreciating Paxton’s performance even more the second time around, once I had a better picture of who the character was as it pertained to the full story.
What works best about the movie is that, as the story unfolds, the pacing is well timed in the way of creating suspense but never so slow that you’re sitting around waiting for something to happen. What’s more, without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t seen it, there’s a point in the movie where you realize that much of what you thought you saw isn’t as it was presented. I think any filmmaker takes a risk when they try to flip a movie on its side as you’re approaching the closing act, but Frailty doesn’t cheat its viewers. Like I said, watching it a second time, you see clearly how everything was laid out, and it all lines up, including the acting and Paxton’s direction. There’s a delicate balance with a film like this one, and Paxton managed to find it, bringing the story out in such a way that the viewer begins to understand what’s happening at the exact moment they should. The ending not only delivers an interesting conclusion to the story but will also leave you with a few things to think about.
The disc includes a number of great special features, however it seems they’re all the same features that were released on the original DVD. There are numerous commentaries, a “Making of” featurette, and the Sundance Channel’s “Anatomy of a Scene” featurette. So the only real Blu-ray upgrade is the picture quality and the ability to navigate through the menu while watching the movie.
Among the commentaries featured on the disc is one by director Bill Paxton, another by screenwriter Brent Hanley, and a third by producer David Kirschner, editor Arnold Glassman, and composer Brian Tyler. Of the three, I think I enjoyed Bill Paxton’s most. As he was not only the director but one of the stars of the film, we get to hear his thoughts on the movie from both perspectives. Brent Hanley’s is also really interesting as he talks about the film from a story perspective.
Both featurettes include footage of the making of the film. I enjoyed getting to see how the car-ride sequence with Powers Booth and Matthew McConaughey was done, and I gained a new appreciation for what was done with those scenes to make them work.
If you own the DVD, the Blu-ray version isn’t entirely necessary, as there isn’t anything on the disc that you wouldn’t have seen already. But if you don’t own this movie, it’s definitely worth adding to your collection, and the special features are very good and worth checking out.