Frailty (2001)
Matthew McConaughey. Child actors. Religion. These are a few of my non-favorite things. I remember going to the theater to watch Frailty, the directorial debut of co-star Bill Paxton, thinking that it would be a decent way to spend an evening, but never could have expected it to be one of my favorite horrors of all time. This Southern gothic tale follows Paxton’s nameless dad and his gee-golly sons (played by Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter) into the dark following an angel’s appearance and subsequent demands that the dad kill off evil demons walking the Earth as regular people. Is the dad crazy or sincere, and regardless, how can two boys be safe in the care of a murderer? It’s all wrapped up in the outer story of the stone-eyed McConaughey as the grown up son who confesses his family’s history to a federal agent played by Powers Boothe. From its idyllic beginning to its powerful ending, Frailty drips with atmospheric dread that never lets up. I get so angry whenever I mention this movie and people have no idea what I’m talking about.
Frailty is available for rent on Amazon, Apple, YouTube and other services; more info here

grave encounters
Grave Encounters (2011)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A paranormal reality TV show crew heads to an abandoned psychiatric hospital for an episode, and the only thing that remained was the footage found on their cameras. Not exactly original, but writers/directors The Vicious Brothers know exactly how to milk this premise for almost non-stop scares. For one, the team is comprised of cynical non-believers, led by host Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), and the cast is genuinely enjoyable to watch. Second, this isn’t a "let’s wait until the last five minutes to bring out the scares" kind of a movie, and once the ghastly weirdness begins, it rarely stops. It helps that the more common scares, like moving doors and windows, are balanced by oddball frights such as giant black hands extending from the ceiling and other beings that pop out of nowhere. Claustrophobic, tense and wallowing in dark humor, Grave Encounters stands high above the plethora of awful similar efforts giving the genre a bad name. (Incidentally, the Vicious Brothers-penned sequel Grave Encounters 2, directed by John Poliquin, is one of those awful efforts, so stick with the first one.)
Grave Encounters is available to stream on Netflix and Amazon, and for rental elsewhere; more info here.

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